Book Review: A Compelling Read and a Hilarious Listen
This book review was written by Kim Brack, bookseller at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and first appeared in the Steamboat Pilot.
Louise Erdrich really does have a way with words as demonstrated by her previous National Book Award winning novel, The Round House and critically acclaimed Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Plague of Doves. She is a beautiful writer.
This story has all the Native American cultural atmosphere of her previous books but, this time set in a very near future dystopian America. “Future Home of The Living God” follows 26-year-old Native American Cedar Hawk Songmaker, who was adopted by a couple of Minneapolis liberals. Cedar finds herself pregnant and for genetic purposes decides to reach out to her birth family. The book starts out with subtle hints of the effects of climate change, such as real maple syrup only coming from Canada because it has become too warm in Vermont. Change is happening in animals and humans as well. It seems a de-evolution is beginning to take place and it is really apparent in newborns.
America seems to be devolving too, and a religious totalitarian movement is beginning to take over. Squads are rounding up pregnant women, who once captive aren't seen again. Cedar goes into hiding with the help of both her families and the father of her baby, Phil. Rewards are being offered to turn in pregnant women so it is a very perilous time to be a pregnant woman.
The influence of Margaret Atwood is all over this novel, so if you enjoyed A Handmaid’s Tale, you will enjoy this scary foray into our possible future. The pacing of this novel is like a thriller, resulting in late-night reads to see what is going to happen next. She also waxes philosophical, almost poetic at times. I am still digesting the ending and don't want to give anything away. This book is being met with some controversial opinions, however one thing everyone agrees on is Erdrich knows how to write beautifully and her pacing is compelling.
Every now and then a book comes along that is an absolutely hilarious listen. The Last Black Unicorn is a terrific audio book. Tiffany Haddish, the author of the book, also reads the book in the audio version. She is a very witty comedian and her delivery of this book is nothing short of hysterical.
The book is a memoir of a very tough life with an abusive mother, absent father, foster care … these don't sound like hilarious topics but her wit and intelligence transform her story into a funny and inspirational narrative that will sit with you long after you finish the book. Be forewarned that the topic matter, including sex, gender and race, is written honestly and with some swearing, but it's worth it.