By David Halperin, Viking, $25.95, 304 pages

10For many, writing serves as an outlet to deal with stress, fears, and emotionally turbulent experiences. In David Halperin’s book Journal of a UFO Investigator we meet Danny Shapiro, an angst-filled teen in the 1960s who uses writing to cope with life’s hardships. His mother is dying, his father has dark secrets, and he has very few friends to turn to for support. So Danny writes. He creates an elaborate alternate reality filled with UFOs, a “Super Science Society”, a chance at romance, and the dangerous Three Men in Black. In the world Danny writes about, he is the hero. The future of the planet depends on his success. The story is a combination of sci-fi and a tale of a boy becoming a man. The narrative switches between Danny’s real life and the life he wishes were real. Imagination and reality intertwine effortlessly. Like Danny, author David Halperin was a UFO investigator in the 1960s. He too had a fatally ill mother and he credits his belief in the existence of something bigger with helping him deal with lonely and difficult times. Alienation is something everyone experiences. Danny’s coming of age story helps us realize we are not alone.

Reviewed by Kathryn Franklin