Jessica Frobisher is a botanist and professor working in Michigan; her husband, Liam, helps run a private company that takes tourists into space. They have the requisite two children, a boy and a girl, and at this point seem to be mostly running in their own orbits. Jess is working off nervous energy by building a greenhouse onto the back of her home and emailing Arthur, a fellow professor and former lover who seems to have escaped the relationship by going to the far north to do research on pine trees.
She has plenty of reason to have nervous energy: at the beginning of the novel she informs Arthur (and readers: the whole novel is in the form of her emails to him) about the explosion of one of Spaceco’s rockets just after launch. The deaths of its pilots and a few wannabe-adventurers, including a pregnant woman, naturally draw lots of unwanted attention from media and co-workers at the university. And, naturally, Spaceco’s public-relations machine goes into overdrive, and Jess is asked to participate in each move calculated to make the company look better. Eventually, this leads to the family being filmed as part of a documentary.
As Jess’s life implodes (inevitably, as readers are meant to divine), she begins — just begins — to consider how she’s ended up in the mess she’s in.
Readers probably won’t feel too bad for her; she’s made some careless, stupid decisions. But the novel seems more to be an observation on our current culture than a character study. Alyson Foster’s writing is smart and razor-sharp and doesn’t miss anything to slyly poke fun at. God is an Astronaut is an entertaining book. It would be far better, though, without being saturated with bad language.
Rated: High, for at least three dozen uses of strong language and some milder language, as well as some brief sexual references.