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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 backward, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-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.
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By Mel on 11-27-17
“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”
Quotes from all of the big book industry expos have publishers and booksellers warning that the *unpredictable Republican president has opened a bull market for warnings of dystopia.* Louise Erdrich, speaking at a Harper Collins dinner in June 2017, recalled for the crowd how Trump's win drove her to take another look at a novel she had set aside years earlier, prior to writing The Plague of Doves (published 2008). *Future Home of the Living God, coming out this fall, tells of a society in which women's rights and democracy itself are endangered.*
For this novel the audio format is the perfect choice. Cedar Hawk Songmaker is dictating a letter to the 4 mo. old fetus she is carrying, so the listener hears what this 26 yr. old pregnant woman feels is most important to pass along to her child, uncensored and intimate. This is *a perilous time in the history of creation,* she begins, hinting at a world that, more suddenly than ever imagined, seems to be plummeting backward through evolution. Imagine riding a roller coaster and racing forward to that summit then at the very crest suddenly finding yourself rolling backwards watching the world revert to it's primitive forms as you pick up speed. Perilous, vulnerable, unstable, risky, even hazardous.
The parallel themes Erdrich weaves into the story seem to wind around every fact. With so many undercurrents beneath the surface story, a lazy listener could easily miss the urgency and substance here. Cedar talks to her baby about its development...*at the end of the 4 weeks the nervous system, spinal cord, liver, and kidneys start taking shape; at 8 weeks, bones, nose, eyelids, and toes start appearing and most of your organs are in place; you can respond to touch at this stage; by 5 months, you are over one-third of the size you will be at full term and show sensitivity to light, and respond to sound. . .* It's chilling to hear when weighted by the parallel deterioration of humanity. Cedar is on her way to meet her Ojibwe biological family. The parents that have raised her are citified Budhists, vegans; she herself converted to Catholicism. She informs her baby that it's a hot winter day as she drives through Minnesota, a dragonfly with a 3 ft. wingspan buzzes passed her windshield. She wonders if her child will ever see snow.
If you think the story sounds like something you've read before, Margaret Atwood has done this all before, and there are enough similarities to make it nearly impossible not to do some comparing. The Handmaid’s Tale feels more urgent, more contemporary and plausible, and with reason. From Time, Sept. 7 2017: *Atwood challenged herself to only include events in the book that had happened in history. The result was a tale about the future that can, at turns, feel all too contemporary. The story includes an environmental crisis, restrictions on abortion, marches for women’s rights and Americans fleeing to Canada.* Sounds not only similar, but timely. Atwood's advantage is that her story doesn't need to be imagined or extrapolated; it is eerily prescient. And...that was in 1984, with Ronald Wilson Reagan serving as the 40th President of the United States.
Fans of Erdrich will probably enjoy this book. It has her always elegant touch and insight, but feel in someways like it falls short of her other novels. For those that like a dystopian tale, you could possibly get tired of the religious themes and theologies that dominate the story instead of the details of a world falling into chaos. We might all agree that the ending was just plain old suck-y.
Latin line from Handmaid’s Tale: *Nolite te bastardes carborundorum* (Don’t let the bastards grind you down).
13 of 17 people found this review helpful
By Meghan Hammond on 06-09-18
Wonderful read by the author!
Highly recommend this as an audiobook. The author’s voice is kind, almost meditative, while still pushing you along through this beautiful story. I was rapt the entire time. One of my audible favorites!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful