The latest selection from my summer reading list is engrossing, informational, and timely; you’ll want to read this before August 21.
He Said/She Said is a psychological thriller set around a complete solar eclipse and characters who chase this phenomenon.
In 1999, Kit and Laura attend the eclipse festival in Cornwall, England. After they behold this rare and beautiful event, Laura witnesses a crime that has lasting implications on their lives and relationship.
The story models the five stages of an eclipse. As usual in modern thrillers (at least the ones I have read), it is told with alternating points of view and chopped-up time frames. This format has become the norm, I suppose, because it usually works to keep the pages turning.
Scattered within the drama is beautiful text about the power of this phenomenon as well as explanations of basic terminology – such as “totality” – and insight into how it feels to “chase” and experience this event.
“How can you chase a phenomenon when you’re the one moving, and the phenomenon is standing still. First of all there’s nothing still about an eclipse; the darkness comes at more than a thousand miles an hour. Well, it’s true there’s no changing the coordinates. The shadow will fall where the shadow will fall, in a pattern that was established when we were still primordial soup. But clouds are not nearly so predictable. An unanticipated cumulus can disappoint a crowd of thousands who only moments before were standing confidently in sunshine. The thrill is outwitting the weather.”
“As most eclipse chasers will tell you, nothing less than totality counts. Partial eclipses are interesting but they don’t give you the shivers. Even 98 percent coverage is like being nearly pregnant.”
I have only recently started reading more books in the “thriller” genre. The plot twists are necessary to the experience – and this book has them! It kept me guessing though I can’t say it was all believable…but overall this book kept my attention and the subject matter made it worthy of recommending, especially considering its timely topic.
Trigger warning for sexual assault.
To learn more about the upcoming (non-fiction!) event, check out NASA’s site dedicated to the total solar eclipse in America on August 21, 2017. This is the first total eclipse in America in 38 years; another will come in 2024.
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