MLA Gold Award Site

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky Summary and Reviews

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky

by Lydia Netzer

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Jul 2014
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Beyond the skyline of Toledo stands the Toledo Institute of Astronomy, the nation's premier center of astronomical discovery and a beacon of scientific learning for astronomers far and wide. One of these is George Dermont, a dreamer and a man of deep faith, who's trying to prove the scientific existence of a Gateway to God, and speaks to ancient gods and believes they speak back. Its newest star is Irene Sparks, a pragmatist and mathematician invited to lead the Institute's work on a massive superconductor being constructed below Toledo. This would be a scientist's dream come true, but it's particularly poignant for Irene who has been in self-imposed exile from Toledo and her estranged alcoholic mother, Bernice. When Bernice dies unexpectedly, Irene resolves to return to Toledo, and sets in motion a series of events which place George and Irene on a collision course with love, destiny and fate.

George and Irene were born to be together. Literally. Their mothers, friends since childhood, hatched a plan to get pregnant together, raise the children together and then separate them so as to become each other's soulmates as adults. Can true love exist if engineered from birth?

Lydia Netzer's How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky is a mind-bending, heart-shattering love story for dreamers and pragmatists alike, exploring the conflicts of fate and determinism, and asking how much of life is under our control and what is pre-ordained in the stars.

Read a Sample

Click to the right or left of the sample to turn the page.
(If no book jacket appears in a few seconds, then we don't have an excerpt of this book or your browser is unable to display it)

You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky:

Are you more comfortable believing in astronomy or astrology? Is science more trustworthy than faith?
Scientifically, what we view as fact is limited by the currently available knowledge/technology/archaeological discoveries/etc -and as those components evolve, those facts sometimes are altered. Faith can be a lack of evidence/proof, or our, as yet,... - cb

I agree with Sandra54 and Melindah--Irene and Belion were well-suited for that moment in their lives. Both were inaccessible, just marking time until the "real" one came along. I loved it that Irene mistakingly thought Belion had planted the ... - BJ

Did you like the book? Would you recommend it?
For most of the book, I simply could not "get into it." For me, there was a lack of depth. The story line moved too slowly. I found a myriad of excuses not to return to it. In fact, were it not for my commitment to this discussion, I may not have ... - cb

Do you think Irene's behavior is morbid or a positive way to come to grips with mortality? If someone you knew did this, would you feel intervention was necessary?
I think Irene used the bridge to strengthen her resolve to not give in -as she sees her mother doing- to being knocked around by life. But I also think that flinging yourself against the darkness that tugs at you over and over and over may lead to ... - cb

Do you think it is a natural impulse for best friends to want their children to grow up to be soulmates?
Childhood best friends -of course they'd want their children to be best friends, to love each other, to marry. Just think -now best mother-in-laws, best grandmaws. But again, childhood best friends. - cb

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!


Media Reviews

"Although the high-concept astrophysics and philosophy may initially feel daunting, and the story frequently veers from quirky into just plain weird, things pick up speed as well-rounded characters and a few surprising twists are introduced. Whatever their beliefs on fate, readers will root for George and Irene to find their way back to each other." - Publishers Weekly

"Just the kind of touchingly offbeat stuff you could expect from the author of Shine Shine Shine, a big debut that was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist, and more." - Library Journal

"It's a powerful reinvention of the love story - sometimes heart-wrenching, sometimes glorious, but always truly original.  Compelling, rich with ideas, and perfectly written, it left me breathless. I love this book, and you will, too." - Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty

"In How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, [Netzer] writes about "twin souls who collide and love each other forever."  I urge you, dear reader, to collide with this book.  It may just change the way you think about love." - David Abrams, author of Fobbit

The information about How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Anita Fitzwater-Stevens

A brilliant tale
I loved this book! Loved it! I couldn't put it down. The two main characters were so wonderfully written and the way they're brought together was both magical and heart-warming. Parts of it broke my heart and parts of it glued it back together. I would jump at the chance to read something else by this author.


An Amalgam of all things nerdy and quirky.
Reading Netzer for the first time and I am glad i received this advance copy as a book club read.

A mystery/romance arranged marriage and some unrequitted love. This novel has all these elements woven into a nerdy story with some quirky characters, role playing gamers, interspersed with poetry, super-collider sex, black holes, astronomy, astrology, and tea leaves. Somewhere between science and art appreciation, this story goes from hippie to scientific and back to everyday mundane living.

A satisfying read.


My Thoughts
Netzer's style is out of the box for me. Her version of 'magical realism' merging with eccentricity isn't quite to my tastes or standard. However, her premise is unique and her narratives always reach a level of normalcy towards the end which I find somewhat redeeming. Shine, Shine, Shine wasn't a show stopper for me, I'm sure many will disagree. I applaud her renegade style and her determination to see her vision through.

I am a science buff, this addition to the narrative was welcomed. Irene and George are charming. Irene the pragmatic and George idealistic. Their contrasts create tension, attraction and mass appeal.

Despite my aversion to Netzer's style, she has a gift forcing the reader to ask themselves a few poignant questions, a sign of a provoking narrative and a smart author. I found myself pondering destiny, astrology and unforeseen forces in general in matters of love. With their divided ways of seeing things, it gave the story a another level of interest by hearing their arguments regarding love and their union.

"Why do some people fall in love with each other, and others don't? What is love? It is so, so, so stupid right up until it's real. And then it's the most important thing in the world, whether you believe it or not."

The ending was superb, actually I felt it was going to go in a different direction, needless to say I am happy my prediction was incorrect and a pleasant surprise.

Netzer has no difficulty spinning an original romantic yarn, her unconventional characters, blending science and overall peculiar style forms a sweet sentimental story, leaving the peruser with loads to mull over. Entertaining read, Netzer fans will surely find this book more than enjoyable.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Lydia Netzer Author Biography

Photo: Katie Weeks Photography

Lydia Netzer was born in Detroit. Her novel Shine Shine Shine was named of the 100 Notable Book of 2012 by the New York Times. She has written two more books, both published in 2014. She and her family live in Norfolk.

Link to Lydia Netzer's Website

Other books by Lydia Netzer at BookBrowse
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more novels...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday
    by Susan Rivers

    A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win No Man's Land

No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien

Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.


Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Ruler of the Night
    Ruler of the Night
    by David Morrell
    Amateur sleuth Thomas De Quincey is back in a mystery set in Victorian England. This time, he and ...
  • Book Jacket: A List of Cages
    A List of Cages
    by Robin Roe
    Robin Roe has written one helluva young adult debut novel. Alternating first person narratives by a ...
  • Book Jacket: Homesick for Another World
    Homesick for Another World
    by Ottessa Moshfegh
    The frizzy, freaky, funky, and frazzled all pile on in this much anticipated short story collection ...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H W S W T Devil S H A L S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.