Book Review: I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I Love You, Michael Collins is a middle grade novel by Lauren Baratz-Logsted. It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong, all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin. Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else's dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what's going on with her family, her best friend Buster, and her cat. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can't help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore?

I Love You, Michael Collins is composed of Mamie's letters to astronaut Micheal Collins. I think many of us who have journaled (on paper or digitally) knows how cathartic it can be to share the events and feelings that are effecting us, even if we think no one is reading or listening. Mamie is sharing the chain of events that take up her summer via letters to a figure that might not ever read, never mind answer, her letters. However, I think her writing down of the events are what help her process and survive a rough summer. The family troubles she goes through give readers a realistic, historical glimpses of the expectations and view of the era, combined with family dynamics that are similar to what some readers might be dealing with themselves. I am not always a fan of books in letter, or journal, format. However, I think the need for connection expressed by Mamie in these letters and the lovely conclusion, make it work beautifully. I felt for Mamie through out the book, and just might have shed some tears for her, because who has not felt like the one left behind?

I Love You, Michael Collins is a well written and touching historical read for the middle grade crowd, and one that I thing will still resonate with readers no matter when they read it. This book will stand the test of time, and just might be a classic in school and public libraries in the near future.
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