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Shanghaied to the Moon
Michael Daley
Putnam Juvenile , 2007

Review by Kristie Groves
Read our review of Daley's Space Station Rat


Stewart Hale dreams of becoming a rocket pilot like his mother, Maggie Hale, and his hero, Val Thorsten, one of the greatest spacers that ever lived. He wants to attend the Space Academy and fulfill the required training for his ambitions. In order to do so, he must get his father?s signature on his application. The only trouble is that Stewart?s father doesn?t want him in space, due to Maggie Hale?s untimely death in a shuttle crash. The subject is a forbidden one in the Hale household.

Stewart?s mother died when he was six and he has been seeing a Counselor to deal with the trauma of the event. He has trouble remembering that day, as well as some of his memories of his mother in general. His father and brother refuse to tell him anything about it. Even the holographic Counselor seems to be hiding something about that fateful day when Stewart?s mother died. All Stewart knows of that day is what the ?holo? recording shows him, but it doesn?t seem real to him.

Stewart doesn?t remember it as the ?holo? depicts it, and he doesn?t feel any emotional connection when he views it. Despite seeing the Counselor often, he is still missing memories of his mother and the nightmares continue.

After an uneventful session with the Counselor the day before his thirteenth birthday, Stewart visits a spaceport. He meets an old spacer who offers him a job as a cabin boy on a flight to the Moon. He tells Stewart that the Counselors aren?t to be trusted, that they make you ?forget?. After returning home, Stewart tries to research the Counselor and finds that his computer is not allowed access on the mnemonic memory suppression technique that the Counselors sometimes use. This raises a lot of questions within Stewart, and he begins to question the validity of his treatment.

In the next session, Stewart questions the Counselor, demanding to know why his memories are missing. He discovers that his computer is linked to the Counselor when he is asked about his attempt to research the counseling techniques. His visit to the spaceport was also captured in a ?holo? and shown to him. Putting the pieces together, Stewart decides the Counselor isn?t to be trusted. After the holographic Counselor tries to force him to watch the ?holo? of his mother?s death over and over again, he fights his way out of the room and heads for the spaceport.

Stewart is panicked and asks the old spacer for help. The spacer tells him they should leave and they both blast off in a rocket for the mission on the Moon. During the mission, Stewart begins to understand the nature of his memory blanks and also discovers more information about his mother, the nature of her death, and the reason for all the secrecy in his home back on Earth.

This reviewer found this book to be an enjoyable read. This space adventure is reminiscent of early Robert A. Heinlein works, whose stories take place in the known solar system. If you ever have wondered what it would be like to be an astronaut, this book definitely allows one?s imagination to grasp what being in a rocket might be like. Even though the book is geared for a teen audience, an older audience could enjoy it.

The first-person narrative is wonderfully executed, and the present tense format brings immediacy to the story. The story has many interesting turns within, most of which I was not able to figure out ahead of time. I highly recommend this one for the library shelf!

Michael Daley is also the author of Space Station Rat, which The Thunder Child reviewed some months ago. Read our review of Daley's Space Station Rat.

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