From Publishers Weekly
Sher's whimsical, elegiac debut novel is about a boy whose father is chosen, in the summer of 1976, to be the first civilian on the moon. The ascent of Jerry Finch-a quixotic Florida junior high school earth science teacher-into the heavens is part of a NASA-sponsored program to revive flagging public interest in space exploration. Narrator Georgie Finch, who was nine years old at the time, recalls the strain that his father's selection brought to the family, as Georgie's skeptical mother, Barbara ("the moon... is a veritable palace of idiots"), tries to suppress her worry about the trip. During the week and a half that Jerry is in space, strange things begin to happen: Georgie receives several phone calls from his father, telling him what it's like in space. Barbara learns that their 16-year-old babysitter, Angie, has been having an affair with Jerry and is now pregnant. And then, Jerry disappears. Georgie, his mother and their town become the center of a media spectacle. The public soon learns of Jerry's affair with the teenager, and Barbara is forced into the role of Jackie O.-style celebrity widow. And while the world's attention is focused on the moon and the search for Jerry, Georgie continues receiving phone calls from his father, who tries to explain to Georgie the mystical nature of the moon and the special connection he feels to it. Sher lets these enigmatic communications-which everyone assumes are Georgie's grief-stricken fantasies-stand without comment, as Georgie himself reflects on the vagaries of memory and the difficulty of sorting out truth and fiction. The novel is an original, haunting twist on a story of childhood loss.
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*Starred Review* Some of you may (or may not) remember Apollo 19, the ill-fated final mission in which Jerry Finch, junior-high-school Earth Science teacher and starry-eyed dreamer extraordinaire, became the first Everyman on the moon--and decided to stay. You may also remember how the saga of the disappearing astronaut kept a nation glued to its televisions and telescopes and how the tent community of Magnolia Court, Florida, kept vigil even after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin returned home forlorn. Told from the perspective of his young son--perhaps the only one who truly understands the man on the moon--this story also belongs to the captivating cast of earthlings Jerry leaves behind: childhood friend and down-on-his-luck politician Lyle Barnes, vainly self-absorbed academic journalist Bob Nightly, plus Jerry's resentful wife and a (gasp!) pregnant 16-year-old baby-sitter. Sher's affection for his characters is clear, and they shine with softly absurd humor (Neil and Buzz showing support for Jerry by wearing their space suits on Earth, for example) and a DeLillo-like nostalgia for Americana and belief. This is a beautiful, eloquent first novel that dares one to use clever phrases like "rising star" and "out of this world." Brendan DriscollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved