Reviewed by Kristin
How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer is one of those page-turners that I just couldn’t stop reading. Irene Sparks and George Dermont have been arcing through their lives separately, not knowing that their mothers planned their meeting before they were born. Netzer’s characters have such quirky, appealing personalities. In a world that recognizes differences are what make us special, these two non-conformists shine brighter than the stars.
Irene is a serious scientist, an astronomer who has created infinitesimal black holes in her lab in Pittsburgh. With this breakthrough, the world-famous Toledo Institute of Astronomy invites her to join their ranks. George is also a research fellow and instructor at the Institute, but with a dreamy outlook and a desire to find the reality of God through the immense reaches of the physical universe.
As Irene moves back to Toledo to accept this prestigious position, her mother has just died from a fall down the stairs. Irene hadn’t spoken to her for years, as her mother had immersed herself deeper and deeper into her astrological beliefs while Irene moved forward with her unsentimental scientific research.
George had been told by a psychic that he was destined to be with a brown haired astronomer whom he would meet in Toledo. After dating almost every available brunette at the Institute, George sees Irene at the annual welcome banquet and in an instant, he realizes, “It’s you.” For George, their fate is locked. Irene, well, she’s not so sure.
Irene and George struggle with knowing each other and discovering the multifaceted layers of their histories. Are they truly meant to be together? Or has this all just been a tangle created by their mothers more than two decades earlier? Writing not just a love story, Netzer weaves together a story with beautiful language that shows how two unusual people learn to make sense of their lives, the world and the universe.
Netzer’s previous book, Shine, Shine, Shine is another beautiful novel that mixes socially awkward people and love. Read that review here.
To experience a fresh voice in new fiction, explore the worlds created by Lydia Netzer.