toledo from the night sky book coverReviewed by Jax Kepple

“This is a love story about astronomy.”

George and Irene were destined to be together, ever since their mothers were best friends growing up and thought it would make their lives easier to already have someone who complimented them perfectly. Author Lydia Netzer is able to craft a love story interwoven with cosmic imagery that comes together in the end for a satisfying finale.

Irene Sparks is a genius researcher who is working in Pittsburgh and living with her boyfriend, Belion. The same minute that she has a major breakthrough involving black holes, her mother, Bernice, mysteriously falls down the stairs in Toledo and dies.

Netzer juxtaposes the complexities of the black hole discovery with the last breaths of Bernice, one example of how she sets up science, life, death and love as being linked. She uses this device often to paint the picture of how destiny and science are two sides of the same coin.

George Dermont sees imagery of gods and goddesses in modern dress floating around taunting him. His mother, Sally, is a corporate lawyer and is as cold as his father, Dean, an artist, is warm. He has bad headaches and needs to take medication to deal with them, leading to a difficult decision at the end about how to deal with his head.

George and Irene meet and literally immediately fall in love. Their connection is real and every second they spend together is wonderful. Irene is a virgin, and again, Netzer uses supercollider imagery to depict sex. They get along so well that Irene feels like she can’t handle it but George knows what to say to convince her this is real.

Sally and Bernice were under the impression that if their children were born the same day, the same second, then they would fall in love when they were older. They go through insane lengths to prove this, and when Irene and George are three years old they separate. Sally and Bernice eventually stop being friends, and Bernice tumbles down a hole of self-loathing and alcoholism.

Netzer uses a lot of devices here, but the ending wraps things up well. It took a long time to get there though, and I felt like some things could be streamlined.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.