Thanks to the lovely people at Little Brown for this copy of Red Clocks by Leni Zumas. All thoughts and images are my own.
Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
Ro, a single high school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own while also writing a biography of Eiver, a little-known nineteenth-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Fin is the gifted-forest dwelling herbalist, or “mender,” who brings all the fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
The world in which this story exists is so completely terrifying to me and also so imaginable. Primarily, this book feels so real as it is so grounded in the experience of inhabiting a body that is in some ways defined only by its ability to create children. I felt this book physically; I could tell because I found myself laughing aloud and squirming with discomfort.
Additionally, the premise does not seem so far from the realm of possibility. Our current political situation has left me feeling despondent; I feel like what happens in the government is so out of my control. What’s so terrifying to me about today’s situation is that I feel like any day now, we could wake up to have certain rights that I consider inalienable revoked without much warning.
Finally, Zumas is a damn good writer. I’m pretty sure I can say with confidence that this is the first story I’ve ever read with four alternating perspectives where I was equally interested in each story line. Once I adjusted to her unique prose, I raced through to the end of the story. I couldn’t put this one down.
This book is my first recommendation of 2018. Check it out.
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