Taking Off, by Jenny Moss

abigailbat's review against another edition

Go to review page


It's 1985 in Houston, Texas and high school senior Annie has a secret. She wants to be a poet. Only, she's having a hard time admitting that to anyone, even to herself. What kind of living can you make being a poet? It seems an impossible dream. So Annie's stuck. While her best friend is going off to college next year and her boyfriend Mark wants her to stay in town and marry him, Annie is frozen by indecision. And then she meets Christa McCauliffe, an ordinary high school teacher who was chosen from thousands of applicants to go into space on the Challenger. Suddenly, Annie has a glimmer of hope. If this ordinary teacher can reach for her dreams, why can't Annie?

This is a realistic portrayal of a teen facing her senior year of high school and the seemingly impossible future that stretches out beyond. Jenny Moss does a good job of capturing the time period with details and her author's note is a very nice addition. I only wish that there had been more showing of Annie's emotions and reactions, rather than telling.

More on the blog:

hollylynna's review against another edition

Go to review page


The are certain events where people can always tell you where they weere the moment it happened. And the Challenger explosion is one of those moments for me. I remember being in the library science building at Kutztown Univerxity with my fellow librarinas-to-be and watching in horror. Reading this book and reeading that particular scene made me realize how doubly horrifying it must have been to be there zo close watching the launch. I love how author JennyMoss showed how Christa Mcauliffe did touch lives and how teachers do everyday. Great book!

heykellyjensen's review against another edition

Go to review page


This one's not a solid 3 star for me, but it was close enough.

I liked TAKING OFF quite a bit. Annie reminds me a lot of who I was at 18 and a senior in high school, right down to debating whether or not I wanted to go to college because I wanted to read and write poetry instead. It was a little eerie, even. Maybe what's sort of funnier is that I think a lot of what Annie's struggling with here is stuff I still think about a lot.

However, I've a few things that didn't quite work for me, including the fact that I don't believe there was enough of a relationship between Annie and Christa to make everything Annie comes to believe/discover/be inspired feel authentic. She and Christa met at a dinner party hosted by Annie's friend, but that was her only real connection to her. There was opportunity to expand this a little more in the front of the story, and had it been, this would have been a little more of a knock out for me. I wanted more of Annie's internal thoughts on why she connected so much to Christa near immediately. Annie really became enamored with her and her story. I wish she'd told me a little more why.

The other thing I didn't find completely compelling was Annie's relationship with her boyfriend and then with Tommy. It was sort of a strange thing that her father would bring a boy who was older than her on their trip to Florida and kind of let them have their time together. It's all innocent but it was sort of strange. It didn't feel like something Annie would let happen, the developing of a romance between them. I guess this comes down to wanting more out of Annie as a character. I think this is a rare instance I could have done with MORE of the romantic story line.

Annie's parental relationships a little odd. I'm fixated and fascinated by divorced parents, especially in ya lit, and this felt like a strangely calm relationship between her and her mother and her and her father, as well as with her parents between themselves. Even when mom becomes engaged again, there's little to it. I'm demanding, maybe, but I could have used a little more there.

My issues come down to tension and character. I wanted more of both. The story was there, and I found this slice of history to be completely engaging. When the shuttle launches, I held my breath because I knew what was coming and knew it was going to be devastating. The book worked because the historical event is a launch pad to a story, and it's here. I'd just have liked a little more.

But oh Annie. Man. I can't get over how similarly-minded I was to her at that age. It's always bizarre to read a book like that.

I may write an even longer review of this. Imagine!

mary00's review

Go to review page


3 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed this better than average coming of age story, which is set during the time of the Challenger shuttle disaster.

In her hometown of Clear Lake, Texas, Annie meets Christa, the teacher who has been chosen to go into space. Annie is so impressed and influenced by Christa that she convinces her father to take her to Florida to view the shuttle launch. Along the way she learns about herself and finds herself questioning the direction her life is heading. Will she decide to remain in Clear Lake with her safe and comfortable boyfriend Mark, or will she take a courageous leap and follow her heart?

This book had an engaging storyline, interesting characters, and just enough sappy romance to keep me happy. There were a few times when I felt that the writing was a little clunky (thus the 3 stars instead of 4), but overall this was a great read! This would be a great (and clean!) choice for teenage girls.

everydayreading's review

Go to review page


I loved this book - coming of age at its finest. Read my full review here:

plexippa's review

Go to review page


No one labels me as an eccentric, but that's because they don't know what's in my heart.

In the late Fall of 1985, Annie is a high school senior in suburban Houston, and her comfortable life is on the verge of being completely upended. Her best friend wants her to go to college in Austin with her. Her boyfriend of two years wants her to stay in town with him. Her mother wants her to be friendlier to Donald, her mother's boyfriend. Annie isn't sure what she wants, except that she wants to be a poet, an idea she keeps secret from the engineers and space program geeks who populate most of her town. Then, she meets Christa McAuliffe at a dinner party. She can't help but feel inspired by the famous "Teachernaut", so inspired that she decides to take a road trip to Florida to see the Challenger launch. And maybe, while she's at it, figure out where she wants to go.

This is a quiet novel, with a lot of introspection. As it opens, Annie is caught between conflicting impulses and would really rather hole up at home than deal with making decisions about her future. While it is a situation many teens will recognize, the story lacks action, making it less than compelling. Even the romantic subplot, with its potential for angst and drama, ends up feeling underwhelming. The book might find its audience with adults who remember the Challenger disaster and will appreciate former NASA engineer Moss's attention to detail.

pers's review

Go to review page


What a beautiful, excellent book. Set around the time of the Challenger disaster and encompassing the way the accident inspired one young woman to be her best self.