I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Barstow-Logsted takes place in 1969 with events focused on Apollo 11’s moon mission. The entire story is written as letters to Michael Collins, which started as a final school assignment before summer break. Mamie is a character who is not afraid to be herself, even if that makes her stand out. She is the only person in her class to choose Michael Collins instead of Buzz Aldrin or Neil Armstrong. Mamie decided to keep up the letter writing through summer vacation. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know who Michael Collins was before reading this!
Mamie and her best friend/neighbor Buster are obsessed with everything related to the upcoming moon mission. During the excitement, Mamie’s family is going through some tough times. Her mom leaves after an argument with her dad, and Mamie fears this indicates a divorce. Her dad eventually leaves to win back his wife, leaving Mamie with her sixteen-year-old sister Bess. Bess’s only concern is her boyfriend. Meanwhile, their older sister Eleanor comes by to help, but she doesn’t stay for too long. Mamie finds herself home alone quite a bit.
The story includes strong messages about true friendship, courage to not follow the crowd, and the essence of teamwork. Every team member may not get the glory, but every contribution is crucial to reaching the mission’s goal. This story lends itself to so many research possibilities- the time period, NASA and all the elements that go into a rocket launch, and letter writing to name a few. This is a solid read for intermediate grades!