A novel that combines the looming shadow of an unhappy mother-daughter relationship with breathless accounts of alien abduction.
Julia Glazer is a stoic young woman who lives a seemingly quiet and circumspect life in New York, working as a cleaning woman and living in a railroad apartment in a commercial neighborhood. On an August night in 1990, she finds herself watching the Perseid meteor shower and meeting an older man who offers to share his binoculars with her. John is a psychiatrist and was a professor, and, despite an internal litany of misgivings and an oddly cold dissection of the situation, Julia finds herself giving him her phone number. The relationship that develops between them provides a solid current beneath the more unusual revelation that drives the rest of the story: Julia has been visited by eerie beings for most of her life. She does not know what they want or why they haunt her, but she blames their presence on her mother, who had her own connection with the beings and who died when Julia was 13. The unanswered questions left behind with her mother’s death haunt Julia with as much darkness and confusion as her strange visitors and give the novel a feeling of both festering trauma and a deep, bruising unhappiness. Lerman (Radiomen, 2015, etc.) writes those feelings well, giving Julia an oddly disconnected and excessively conscientious voice, though her meandering thoughts and neuroses often fall into a gracefully boring blandness that drains the novel of urgency, surprise, or deep feeling. Julia’s story is full of outrageous and extraordinary events, and Lerman sets her up with every reason to be shattered and transformed by them, but the energy of the story becomes obscured by chilly fluency.
An unfortunately muffled novel about coming to terms, on various levels, with one’s place in the universe.