Meg Howrey takes us inside the heads of six very different people in her new novel, “The Wanderers.” Three are astronauts wandering and wondering through a simulated mission to Mars, and the other three are the family members adrift here on Earth awaiting their return.
The three astronauts have been chosen by Prime Space Systems as the perfect team to lead the first-ever mission to Mars. But first they must endure 17 months in a near-perfect simulated trial mission set in the Utah desert. They are tested physically, mentally and socially. Prime expects a great deal and wants the trio to prove why they are indeed the right choices.
Helen is the heart and soul of the mission. A retired U.S. astronaut, she logged three missions in space, but isn’t quite ready to fly a desk. She is a widow and mother, who feels too old to change but too young to quit trying. Helen has always been a shining example of the great American hero, someone whom everyone admires and respects. She does and says all the right things and seems faultless. Of course, no one is that perfect. Just ask her daughter. If Helen could only love her as much as she loves space, then maybe she could one day really come home.
Author Meg Howrey has written ‘The Cranes Dance’ and ‘Blind Sight’ and is co-author of ‘City of Dark Magic’ and ‘City of Lost Dreams’ under the pen name Magnus Flyte.
Mireille, Helen’s daughter, is truly a drama queen. She wants to be an actress, and let’s face it, she’s been acting almost her entire life. Acting like the perfect proud daughter, the perfect all-American girl. Too bad it’s not working for her, or her mother. She was better when she had her dad around because she could be enough for him and his love was enough for her. Her mother is another story. How can you be real, show true emotion, with the entire planet watching you? It’s easier to act the part than play the part, even if she wanted to.
Russian Sergei is on board for his own tortured reasons. He wants to set an example for his two sons and prove something to himself. He has spent most of his life trying to show that he is not meek, despite what his father thought. He is not naturally fatherly or altogether friendly, but he is reliable, strong and pushes himself to be the best at everything. He takes the role of teammate with a grain of salt because he really feels comfortable as the commander. Recently divorced, he cannot take command of raising his sons, but he can at least command their image of him.
Dmitri, Sergei’s 16-year-old son, is no better off than Mireille. He longs to have his father around but doesn’t act like it. He’s pretending in a much bigger role that puts him at odds with himself. He is unsure about life in the U.S. with his new family, waiting for his father’s return and trying to live up to what he thinks is expected of him. So when his random liaisons in New York City lead him to an encounter he’s not ready for, it’s the fear of hurting his father, and his father’s image, that scares him the most.
Meg Howrey was a professional dancer with roles in the Joffrey Ballet and City Ballet of Los Angeles.
Yoshi is the youngest member of the crew. He has an impeccable reputation for being easy to get along with, a solid teammate whom everyone likes. Yoshi doesn’t struggle in space, or simulated space, nearly as much as he does on Earth. Yoshi wants to validate himself for his wife, Madoka. She is not only a successful executive, but the love of his life. Only their match seems very superficial, much like the robots she sells and the simulation he’s living in. They are almost on two different planets through most of their marriage, even when Yoshi is on Earth. Unfortunately, these two don’t connect because neither one of them is willing to share their true feelings, or ever just talk to each other truthfully.
The trials and tribulations of these six people are the backdrop to what is not a sci-fi thriller. The Wanderers is about what it takes for families to keep the dream of space exploration alive for their loved ones, and still survive themselves.
☆☆ (out of five)
- By Meg Howrey
- G.P. Putnam’s Sons, $27