Can You Hear Me by Geonn Cannon, is a novel about two women meeting without ever seeing each other. Colonel Noa Laurie is an astronaut high above the earth on a mission to clean up orbital space around the planet. She’s both a hero and a pariah for being the sole survivor of a space disaster years before. Noa takes the mission to prove a point to herself more than anything else. But two years in space is a long time without human contact, despite the fact that she spent her whole life denying the kind of close relationship that would make that contact worthwhile.
Jamie Faris is an artisanal woodworker living in a farmhouse in the Midwest. Victim of a failed marriage and regularly subjected to a not-quite ex-husband who continues to push into her boundaries, she screams her frustrations out into an old antique radio. Little does she know her words would find an ear, or that such a tenuous connection would form a bond that could span the stars above.
Noa Laurie is a pilot and typical of her kind. But Cannon doesn’t write the way you’d expect, rarely does. Instead of the top gun bravado and butch swagger, instead you get an attractive woman, a poster child for the industry who has been underestimated her entire life. With advanced degrees in science, she’s neither a pretty face nor a rocket jock. And she’s lonely. I think I didn’t really like Noa so much on her own, but for who she could be when she connected with Jamie.
Jamie Faris is a different sort altogether. She comes across as someone who’s never really fit in. She’s tall and lanky with rough hands and short hair, but I never got the idea that she was specifically butch either. She shuns the internet and frequents the library and video store for entertainment, yet her hands are scarred and rough from a life spent working with wood. She wears glasses in a way that I picture on cute young nerd girls flirting over coffee, yet she seems awkwardly vulnerable and appears to enjoy living a solitary life with her dog. I like her for all the things she isn’t as much as what she actually is.
The Writing Style
Cannon uses language that is very easy to follow. At first I thought this book was going to be slow, to drag out because of the way the chapter headers were written. (Number of days in the mission rather than titles) Knowing Col. Laurie would be in space for 700 days made me anxious that those days would drag out for the reader as much as for the characters. But they really didn’t. Each new connection made by Noa and Jamie was a glimpse into the building romance between them, even separated by the great chasm of time and space as they were. When one person is stationary and the other is flying at thousands of miles per second, windows of opportunity were small and precious. Cannon did a fantastic job of conveying how much those windows meant to each woman.
The thing I liked most about this book was its solidity. I enjoyed the buildup between the Jamie and Noa, as well as the steady progression of their strange and atypical romance. This was a novel about a long distance relationship like none you’ve ever seen. But beyond the storyline itself, I liked the fact that there was no contrived drama, no artificial angst inserted in just to make a splash. Jamie’s relationship is dissolved in all but paper, though her husband is always on the sidelines doing what exes do. But even through his pursuit she doesn’t waver in her dedication to the woman high above. Noa, on the other hand, could have been that stoic character who denies her feelings like so many authors enjoy writing but instead we see a character who continues to grow and emotionally develop through the entire book.
In a way I wish I could have seen more of some of the past events that were referenced in the book. We got glimpses of the original disaster that Noa survived, and glimpses of what led her to take on one more mission. Perhaps I’m too much of a science nerd but I thought those back stories would have been cool.
On the technical side, I found one typo but it wasn’t enough to do more than catch my attention. It certainly didn’t detract from the story.
Can You Hear Me is a refreshing and sweet offering in the varied stable of Geonn Cannon’s works. I genuinely liked the characters and rooted for them throughout the novel. I would compare it to comfort food if I were forced to put it into a meal category. And if you’re concerned about a slow burn, don’t be. The author handles that as well. There are ways around anything if you’re creative enough. Plenty of books out there are full of high emotion and adventure, but sometimes you want something that fills your soul as much as it fills your mind. You want a love that lasts without too much drama, without a lot of crying. Sometimes a sweet romance is, well, the sweetest kind and exactly what we need.
Excerpt from Can You Hear Me by Geonn Cannon
It was Noa’s turn to be silent. She rested her head on the cushion behind her, staring at the ceiling above her. Was it possible a civilian had somehow hacked into Astraea’s signal? But no, if she’d done that she would know who she was talking to. Jamie seemed legitimately perplexed by the situation. I-74…where was that? Ohio? Somewhere in the East, she thought.
“I’m here,” she said softly. “Jamie, can you tell me exactly where you are right now?”
Jamie said, “Why?”
“I’m in my barn. My house is on the other side of the driveway. About twenty miles outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, United States… Earth.”
Noa couldn’t help but laugh at the last bit. “Can you do me a favor? Google the name Noa Laurie.” She spelled it again. “Tell me what you see.”
“I don’t have a computer.”
Noa was stunned. “You don’t have any internet access at all? What about your phone?”
“It doesn’t get very good reception. Look, um… I’m… I’m sorry. I’m having a really bad day, and I wanted to scream about it a little bit. I didn’t think I would actually find someone who was listening to this particular frequency.”
Noa looked at her monitor. She made a quick note of what frequency the communications were currently on. There should have been safeguards to prevent a civilian from getting anywhere near the ship’s communications. She knew that Enver had jury-rigged a state-of-the-art radio system so they could be in contact no matter where she was above the planet, but there were also firewalls. There were dedicated frequency bands. What was happening should not have been possible.
“I’m going to turn the radio off now.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ASIN number: B077MYPB36
- Publisher: Supposed Crimes (February 1, 2018)
Geonn Cannon Online
- Website: http://www.geonncannon.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/geonn.cannon.1
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/GeonnCannon
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Geonn Cannon’s writing style and selection of genres is diverse but there is a solid core of talent. His novels don’t always have a happy ending but I’ve always found them though-provoking and his characters full of depth. If you liked this book I would suggest picking a genre that you enjoy and giving another one of his books a try. But personally, The Rise and Fall of Radiation Canary is my favorite.