Monday, December 4, 2017

Book Review: Future Home of the Living God

Author: Louise Erdrich
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
Publisher: Harper

Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans.

Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

 “The first thing that happens at the end of the world is that we don’t know what is happening.” 

“Don’t know why it is given to us to be so mortal and to feel so much. It is a cruel trick, and glorious.” 

“Exactly right—folded quietly and knitted in right along with the working DNA there is a shadow self. This won’t surprise poets. We carry our own genetic doubles, at least in part.”

Louise Erdrich’s new book is obviously compared to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale because of the dystopian development in the United States that leads to a government that has taken complete control of women's lives, defining them as childbearers and regulating their pregnancies and the fates of their children. However, to me, The Future Home of the Living God did not measure up to Margaret Atwood. I read a lot of Erdrich in college and I must say that I feel this book was lacking a lot of her usual lyrical writing style and quality. There were several holes in the plot and some of the characters lacked depth and development. I loved the concept of the story, but kept comparing it to Atwood’s dystopian novel, and they just did not match up.

What kept me intrigued and drew me in the most while reading was Cedar’s character and her daily journal entries to her unborn baby. They were mystifying at times and really put life into perspective for me. Cedar is seeking her own biological parents throughout the novel; I wish all of the characters were as fleshed out as Cedar. Her journey and struggle with identity is incredible and really builds a great theme for the novel as a whole. Not only do I wish that the rest of the characters held more detail, I also wish that Erdrich would have spent more time on the development of this dystopian world. I felt that not enough time was spent here, but Cedar and her unborn child are definitely enough to give this book a try if you are a lover of dystopian fiction.

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Harper in exchange for my honest review*** 

1 comment:

  1. Books like this are very good but also chilling in that it seems that they could actually happen...

    Kate @ Ex Libris