Book Review: Red Clocks, by Leni Zumas

Goodreads Summary (sorry, I’m getting lazy):

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.
img_9938Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-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 Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

My Review:

So the reason I haven’t read or watched The Handmaid’s Tale is exactly the reason I was hesitant to read this book – it’s my (and most women’s) worst fears realized, in a world where our worst fears seem to be knocking at our door. But while sticking my head in the sand might prevent me from hearing the knock, it doesn’t stop them from kicking down the door. So I gave it a shot. Let me tell you, this should be required reading in our schools, and I gotta tell ya it wouldn’t hurt if the men in charge of governing this country picked up a copy. Zumas is a highly talented literary author, one who made me root for this unique ensemble of characters through thick and thin. Not that I needed any more convincing, but this book reaffirmed for me what I’ve always believed: women who want to be mothers should have every opportunity to be one, and women who don’t should not have to be.

I listened to it on audiobook, and as such had a little trouble with Gin’s storyline. I liked her very much, but the writing through her perspective was very poetic/haiku-ish and not really my style. I bet I would have liked Gin’s chapters more in written word, and I bet a lot of readers out there would flip for that writing style. Zumas did a great job of keeping the stakes and the tension high, so much so that in the last hour or so of listening I was gripping my steering wheel just dying to know how everything turned out for each of the characters. I love also that, while all the characters were quite troubled, we were left with a sense of hope for each of them.


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