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How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky – Lydia Netzer (Reading Challenge #7)

5 / 5

From the moment Irene says, “I’m a virgin from the neck down.  Let’s keep that dream alive” to her role-playing, online gamer boyfriend, Belion, the Archmage of the Underdark, I knew this story was after my own heart.  Quirky, funny, ridiculous, clever, sweet, sad — this book delighted me the whole way through.

George is a charming wise-cracker, sleeping with every brunette astronomer he finds in Toledo because a fortune-telling astrologer once told him his true love would be an astronomer with brown hair.  Irene is a repressed, studious academic — with brown hair — who has just made a scientific breakthrough in Pittsburgh.  When her mother dies in Toledo, Irene moves back home to work at the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, where she takes over George’s office.  

After they meet and quickly fall in love, they learn the truth about their lives: their mothers had been best friends and had engineered their personalities, interests, tastes, and memories so that they would one day meet and fall in love.

With elements of magical realism and fabulism, language both lyrical and mathematical, questions about fate and destiny and choices, and a cast of characters that includes dorks, freaks, and oddballs, the story of George and Irene’s love alternates with the history of the mothers’ friendship and their grand scheme.  I can’t remember the last time I was so captivated by a book that I barely put it down to go to work, sleep, and occasionally dither around on the internet (to watch one episode of Outlander).  I raced to the ending and then was sad it was over, though it left me feeling happy and hopeful about life and love.

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