Red Clocks

digital download. 9:05 hrs. Hachette Audio. Jan. 2018. ISBN 9781478944072. $25.98. F
OrangeReviewStarZumas's far too timely novel, based on actual suggestions made by politicians, considers an America where abortion is a crime, single women are no longer allowed to adopt, and IVF (in vitro fertilization) is illegal because fertilized eggs are unable to consent to being moved from a medical facility to a uterus. Four central characters are identified mainly by their roles: the Biographer, the Daughter, the Mender, and the Wife. Ro, the Biographer, is single. She has exhausted all of her attempts to conceive, and time is ticking on the likelihood of adoption. Her student Mattie, the Daughter, has sex once and finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy that will ruin her plans for a scholarly future. The Mender, Gin, is a healer of women in need who comes to the attention of men in power and faces a literal witch hunt. The Wife, Susan, is so unfulfilled by her life as wife and mother that she frequently fantasizes about driving herself and her children off a cliff. Their stories intertwine in many ways, with the women often jealous of one another or being their own worst critics. The matter-of-fact storytelling style makes the grim realities of each woman's existence even more tragic, with their lack of choice disabling in every way. Narrators Karissa Vacker and Erin Bennett have very similar voices, and it can be difficult to differentiate between them. However, their implacable tones and unemotional narration add to the inevitability of the events. While the content is difficult to listen to, this production is riveting and all too relevant.
VERDICT Highly recommended for all collections. ["Inevitably, there will be comparisons to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, but Zumas's work is not nearly as dystopic or futuristic, only serving to make it that much more believable": LJ 10/15/17 starred review of the Little, Brown hc.]

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