“Baby Rocket” is the name given to a child who, in 1966, is found abandoned in a rocket-ride on Cape Canaveral. Traumatized, she could not speak when the police found her, a few yards from her dead mother. So first responders called her “Baby Rocket.” As an adult, this child (Clementine “Lem” Dance) has no memory of this event. She discovers her past when her adoptive father, James Walter Dance, Jr. has a fatal heart attack. Lem, a women’s historian who is writing a book about the Mercury 9, while cleaning out her father’s apartment finds files that her father had been collecting in order to tell her the truth. Without him, she must piece together her story—why was she abandoned? What happened to her parents? How did her mother die? Who is her biological father? Doing so will take her from California back to the Tri-State area, where she now lives; to Florida, where she will find her mother’s roots, and her mother’s life-story. Finally she goes out to Martha’s Vineyard, where she will come to terms with what she can recall, and what she has uncovered about the wrenching facts of her early years.
Stephanie A. Smith is the author of Warpaint (Thames River Press, 2012), Household Words (Minnesota, 2006) Conceived By Liberty (Cornell 1995), Other Nature (MacMillan 1995) Snow-Eyes and The-Boy-Who-Was-Thrown-Away (Atheneum 1985/87).