Red Clocks
by Zumas, Leni






Five women-including a high school teacher, a pregnant teenager, and a forest-dwelling homeopath-struggle with changes in a near-future America where abortion and assisted fertility have been outlawed and where the homeopath is targeted by a modern-daywitch hunt.





Leni Zumas is the author of the story collection Farewell Navigator and the novel The Listeners, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. She is an associate professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Portland State University.





*Starred Review* Imagine a world in which Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and you have the premise of Zumas' shattering new novel in which abortion seekers are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, and abortion providers with second-degree murder. The novel introduces four women whose interconnected lives are negatively impacted by the new law. There is Ro, an unmarried high-school teacher desperate to be a mother before a law forbidding single people to adopt goes into effect; her 15-year-old student Mattie, who is pregnant and equally desperate, but for an abortion; Gin, an herbalist, regarded locally as a witch, whose herbs are believed to have the power to terminate pregnancy; and Susan, who, with two children, is trapped in a loveless marriage but feels herself too weak to end it. With its strong point of view, the novel, in lesser hands, might have been reduced to agitprop, but Zumas has raised it, instead, to the level of literature, which readers will find deeply moving. The characters are beautifully realized, inviting empathy and understanding; the richly realized plot is compulsively readable, and the theme, with its echoes of Margaret Atwood, is never didactic but invites thought and discussion. The result is powerful and timely. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.





The lives of five women in a small Oregon town are affected by the outlawing of abortion and an imminent ban on single parenthood.A billboard on the highway to Canada reads, "WON'T STOP ONE, / WON'T START ONE. / CANADA UPHOLDS U.S. LAW!" After the Personhood Amendment grants rights to embryos, the U.S.-Canadian border becomes a "Pink Wall." Women crossing to seek pregnancy terminations or in vitro fertilizations are returned to the U.S. for prosecution. Following the current fashion for braided narratives, this story is told from five perspectives. Ro, whose chapters are labeled "The Biographer," is a single high school teacher who's trying desperately to get pregnant before single parenthood is outlawed. Mattie, "The Daughter," is an academically gifted teenager whose best friend is already in juvenile jail for attempting a home abortion. Now she too is pregnant, and desperate. Susan, "The Wife," is married to another teacher at the high school, miserable with him and with d omestic life in general. She and the Biographer are competitive frenemies who misunderstand and resent each other even as they regularly socialize. Gin, "The Mender," is a natural healer who lives in the woods, an underground provider of herbal abortions, in more danger from the new laws than she realizes. Finally, Eivør Minervudottir is a (fictional) 19th-century explorer of the North Pole, the subject of the Biographer's work. Her sections are brief avant-garde flashes that include recipes for cooking puffin and pilot whale and crossed-out lines revealing the Biographer's process. The other four characters are entangled in complicated, trickily unfolding ways, as is usual in this type of fractured narrative. Zumas (The Listener, 2012, etc.) is a lyrical polymath of a writer: she loves wordplay and foreign terms, she has an ear for dialogue, and she knows an impressive amount about herbal healing, Arctic exploration, and the part of the U.S. her story is set in, its "d a rk hills dense with hemlock, fir, and spruce," its "fog-smoked evergreen mountains, thousand-foot cliffs plunging straight down to the sea." A good story energized by a timely premise but perhaps a bit heavy on the literary effects. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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