My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads: Thad Roberts, a fellow in a prestigious NASA program had an idea—a romantic, albeit crazy, idea. He wanted to give his girlfriend the moon. Literally.
Thad convinced his girlfriend and another female accomplice, both NASA interns, to break into an impregnable laboratory at NASA—past security checkpoints, an electronically locked door with cipher security codes, and camera-lined hallways—and help him steal the most precious objects in the world: the moon rocks.
But what does one do with an item so valuable that it’s illegal even to own? And was Thad Roberts—undeniably gifted, picked for one of the most competitive scientific posts imaginable, a possible astronaut—really what he seemed?
Mezrich has pored over thousands of pages of court records, FBI transcripts, and NASA documents and has interviewed most of the participants in the crime to reconstruct this Ocean’s Eleven–style heist, a madcap story of genius, love, and duplicity that reads like a Hollywood thrill ride.
My take: I honestly doubted I would finish this book when I started. I know it sounds petty but I get so sick and tired of Mormon stereotypes/falling away from the religion/bashing the church which I belong. So the book starts with Thad in the back seat of his parents' car, disgracefully excused from the Missionary Training Center where he came clean about his sexual activity pre-mission. He is sent home with his ultra-conservative and ultra-fundamentalist (not polygamist) parents who, for all intents and purposes, disown him. To save face, there is a rushed wedding ceremony and the two young and ill-prepared kids are faced with college tuition, work, and bills. This sets the tone for the following chapters as Thad struggles with proving himself worthy of being loved and his choices in juxtaposition of his religious upbringing.
I really, really liked the honest telling of the story. By sharing his story with Ben Mezrich, Thad lays himself out bare. He does not make excuses or lay the blame at anybody else's feet. He clearly makes the choices he does knowing right from wrong. At the same time, the reader is sympathetically trailing him as he reinvents himself, justifies one indiscretion which then becomes another and he realizes too late he is tangled in a web he didn't realize he'd woven.
The Mormon in me gets it. The Mormon in me also cringes at the number of "f" bombs. Just a warning.
I actually don't like the title of the book, Sex on the Moon. I get it but the story is really about a brilliant boy who wants to succeed. He wants to be loved. He wants to be accepted for who he is. He works his tail off to be successful at NASA. He triple majors in the sciences. He tries to maintain a long distance marriage. He perceives it as failing and finds love elsewhere. He lets his brilliant mind wander and believe he could steal moon rocks from NASA. His brilliant mind works out the details.
Obviously, he gets caught. I felt myself pulled into the justice system with him, being terrified, dehumanized, feeling (and being) utterly alone and surrounded by violent offenders. This is not a major theme of the book but it broke my heart.
I found the book to be honest, intriguing and heart-wrenching.
Thanks to Liz at Doubleday, I have two copies to offer.