NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
From the acclaimed author of Letter to My Daughter comes an engrossing coming-of-age tale that deftly conveys the hopes and heartaches of adolescence and the unfulfilled dreams that divide a family, played out against the backdrop of a small southern town in 1973.
For his fourteenth birthday, Alan Broussard, Jr., receives a telescope from his father, a science teacher at the local high school who’s eagerly awaiting what he promises will be the astronomical event of the century: the coming of Comet Kohoutek. For Alan Broussard, Sr.—frustrated in his job, remote from his family—the comet is a connection to his past and a bridge to his son, with whom he’s eager to share his love for the stars.
But the only heavenly body Junior has any interest in is his captivating new neighbor and classmate, Gabriella Martello, whose bedroom sits within eyeshot of his telescope’s lens. Meanwhile, his mother, Lydia, sees the comet—and her husband’s obsession with it—as one more thing that keeps her from the bigger, brighter life she once imagined for herself far from the swampy environs of Terrebonne, Louisiana. With Kohoutek drawing ever closer, the family begins to crumble under the weight of expectations, until a startling turn of events will leave both father and son much less certain about the laws that govern their universe.
Illuminating and unforgettable, The Night of the Comet is a novel about the perils of growing up, the longing for connection, and the idea that love and redemption can be found among the stars.
Praise for The Night of the Comet
“A quiet, occasionally bittersweet novel about the differences between desire and disappointment, expectations and reality.”—Booklist
“Coming-of-age novels examine youthful revelations about the world—filled with cynicism and wonder and rearranged expectations—and the quality hinges on the honesty of the voice, the truth of the observations, the handling of innocence lost; Bishop succeeds on all these fronts.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Resonant . . . explores the complexities of a father-son relationship through science, astronomy, and the growing pains of adolescence. . . . Bishop’s characterizations of young Alan’s mother, father, and sister Megan are endearing and their relentless coddling of their maturing son is wincingly accurate.”—Publishers Weekly
“Hilarious and heart-wrenching, ethereal and earthy, The Night of the Comet points us to the fragile universe of dreams and disappointments, joy and tragedy, saying here it is, all of it: feast your eyes on the magic. It’s a heavenly book. Nobody writes about the gravitational pull of parent-child relationships—all that we yearn for and all that we can’t have—like George Bishop.”—Minrose Gwin, author of The Queen of Palmyra
“Equally sweet and sad, this is a fine novel of love and forgiveness.”—Stewart O’Nan, author of Snow Angels
“Bishop’s one of our best, and this book’s a quiet marvel.”—Josh Russell, author of Yellow Jack
“A deft, clear-eyed, and sensitive examination of the mysterious bonds of family, the allure of the unattainable, and love and desire—and their consequences—in all their many forms.”—Ellen Baker, author of I Gave My Heart to Know This
Bishop's resonant follow-up to his 2010 mother-daughter themed debut, Letter to My Daughter, is set in 1973 in a Louisiana town eagerly anticipating a celestial event. Alan Broussard, Jr., a newly 14-year-old bookworm who considers himself to have "no obvious talents, no great looks, no exceptional humor or intellect or passions," is excited about entering high school, though his father is the school's resident science teacher and, therefore, a source of embarrassment. Alan Sr. becomes incrementally obsessed with the impending arrival of the "comet of the century" Kohoutek, but his son is more interested in spying on "angelic" Gabriella, the beautiful girl across the canal, with his new telescope. Bishop's characterizations of young Alan's mother, father, and sister Megan are endearing and their relentless coddling of their maturing son is wincingly accurate as Christmas Eve, the projected date for the comet's sighting, approaches. Meanwhile, the boy's infatuation for Gabriella ebbs and flows and ultimately both father and son come to crushing realizations. More thematically developed than Bishop's first novel, this book explores the complexities of a father-son relationship through science, astronomy, and the growing pains of adolescence.