If you like The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood or dystopian novels in general, you may like Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God. Cedar Hawk Songmaker knows she is adopted and has been raised by a couple in Minneapolis. When the twenty-six year old discovers she is 4 months pregnant, it prompts Cedar to look for her biological parents so she can ask them about genetic diseases and other health history information. Cedar meets her biological family, who happen to be Ojibwe, but in the meantime the world is under some kind of reverse evolution, where animals and human evolution are going backwards. This means that the human species must now be preserved before it regresses. Some of the babies being born are not “original” therefore, pregnant women are being captured and kept in hospitals where they are closely monitored until they give birth.
I had a hard time getting into the book at first, but after the first fifty pages or so, I couldn’t put it down. Cedar is able to hide from authorities with the help of her boyfriend but eventually she is captured and “hospitalized”, her baby monitored constantly. Because Cedar was adopted and because the fate of her child is unknown, she writes to her unborn baby almost daily in a journal. This was a touching part of the book. As a mother, I found myself relating to Cedar as her pregnancy progressed: her protectiveness, her changing body, her anxiety over the birth, her hope for a better world for her child.
Throughout the book, Erdrich briefly touches on politics, religion, the environment and technology in this dystopian setting. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t further develop any of these topics. I won’t spoil the plot, but will say it is grim. This was a haunting yet interesting read for me.