Thank you to Leni Zumas and Little, Brown And Company for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
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 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.
As soon as I read the synopsis for this dystopian novel, I just knew I had to read it and luckily my wish was granted. Despite being classed as a dystopian novel, it’s clear to all of us that something like the events of this book aren’t too far-fetched. After all, abortion is still illegal in a lot of countries. Luckily for me, I live in a country where abortion and adoption is legal and so is IVF so to read something like this, it was shocking and heart-wrenching to see these women with nowhere to turn.
Despite the synopsis revealing the names of the four women, throughout the novel they have ‘nicknames’ of sort and are referred to as them. Ro being The Biographer, Susan being The Wife, Mattie being The Daughter and Gin being The Mender. In a society where women now have no rights to their body, being named after their ‘stereotypes’ or ‘roles’ really stands out. It could create a disconnect to the characters but in my opinion, it really fits well with the message the author is trying to put across. I really enjoyed reading from all the women’s perspectives – the desperation Ro feels trying to conceive before the Amendment passes, Susan feeling helpless and stuck in a loveless marriage, Mattie scared and with nowhere to turn after learning she’s pregnant and then Gin, a different and refreshing character who ties all these women together.
I have to point out also that this book is not YA. I didn’t know that going into it, purely because I kind of went in blind but yeah, there’s a lot of strong language, descriptions of sex and all that. Vaginas are mentioned a lot (woop woop!) The writing style is also very unique. Each of the women kind of have their own way of thinking and talking and the layout of sentences chop and change as we switch perspectives. Susan sometimes thinks in lists whereas Gin’s conscience is broken up a lot and Ro’s is quite factual. I found it very admirable that Leni managed to create all these different voices, not just for the characters themselves but in her writing style.
Overall, it isn’t a light-read in any means. It deals with political issues, the rights women have to their bodies and all taking place in a dystopian world that is scarily possible. I enjoyed reading it thoroughly – I enjoyed that each chapter was split up with a little passage from Ro’s biography of Eivør so it felt as though we got to know her too. How each of the women’s stories ultimately become intertwined was done very well, the writing was strong and it was a book that really centred on these women. I would highly recommend it!
*Red Clocks will be released on January 16th 2018*
Lots of Love,