Future Home of the Living God

Harper. Nov. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9780062694058. $28.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062694072. F
Born on an Ojibwe reservation, Cedar Songmaker was adopted by Sera and Glen, an ultraliberal couple who made sure Cedar never forgot her tribal roots. Now 26, single, and pregnant, Cedar is living in a dystopian future, where a biological calamity appears to be reversing evolution. To tamp down panic, cable and telecommunications companies have been seized. Many women are dying in childbirth, their babies not viable. An ultrasound indicates that Cedar's child might be perfect, which sets her on the run from laws that call for rounding up and incarcerating mothers-to-be until delivery. Whom can she trust? Phil, the father of her child; her tribal family, who could spirit her to Canada; her adoptive parents, who have disappeared? In a narrative that is propulsive, wry, and keenly observant, Cedar records her fears in a diary for her unborn baby. Though Erdrich (Round House; LaRose) struggles to wrap up these observances in a single, cohesive message, she unpacks a Pandora's box of contemporary thematic threads, including environmental devastation, religious intolerance, censorship, and government overreach of women's reproductive rights.
VERDICT Quite different from Erdrich's previous work, this chilling speculative fiction is perfect for readers seeking the next Handmaid's Tale. [See Prepub Alert, 5/8/17.]
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