Do you believe in fate? Do the stars predict our destinies? In Lydia Netzer’s second novel, How to Tell Toledo from The Night Sky, we are introduced to this subject when we meet Irene and George. Irene has just been offered a position at the Toledo Institute of Astronomy to continue her study of black holes and George is already studying the stars and the presence of God at the same institute. The two meet and immediately feel connected to each other and that was the plan all along but this was unknown to them. Their mothers, childhood friends, planned their conception as cosmological soul mates. They were made for each other. This novel has a little astrology, astronomy, cosmology,and quirky characters all combined to make a strange love story.There were some directions that the plot took that felt over done and unnecessary by the author but the novel is a good read.
There are gems of insight in this novel. Whether it is an observation about sleep and death, “Sleep is a shallow death we practice every night” or the implied interconnectedness of astrology and astronomy, like colliding stars and people, Netzer’s story is about “making love from science”. The author challenged my thinking. Her discussion of physics and astronomy is not too complex that you feel left out, but it is there as the back drop for this kooky love story.
There is interesting exploration of science and faith and when juxtaposed you realize that they are not mutually exclusive. Astronomy is based on facts and evidence. Astrology is based on a theory, a leap of faith, that the stars and forces in the universe collide to influence the fate of individuals on earth. Yet, at some point even in science there is a theory, a thought that fuels the search for proof. Think about the science of black holes and atomic material, didn’t it all begin with someone thinking beyond the facts they had? Maybe astrology will be science one day, but in the meantime we will have to believe in Netzer’s premise that a mother’s love and astrology can dictate their child’s life and loves. My 2 cents.