Five women. One question. What is a woman for?
In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.
Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.
When I first started to read Red Clocks, I wasn’t sure this was going to be the book for me. But then, I continued reading, and boy was I wrong!
I got a bit confused at first by the chapter changes — each chapter is from one of the four main character’s point of view and their name is never mentioned in that chapter. However, once I got to know the characters, their voices were so unique that there was no danger of confusing them.
I love the premise of the book — that in the near future (ie, anytime, really), the abortion laws in the US are repealed and embryos are granted person status, which changes everything around reproduction. Also, there’s a new law around adoption where “every child needs two”, meaning single people can no longer adopt. Red Clocks takes place just as these new laws are going into effect so that we can see their full impact.
By throwing the world into this kind of situation, combined with the story of the 19th century Icelandic Arctic explorer, Elivor. Zumas is able to explore the concept of motherhood from many different angles in a fascinating and thoughtful way. By about mid way through the book, I couldn’t put it down and just had to finish.
NOTE: I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley.
Little Fires Everywhere
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned — from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.
Enter Mia Warren — an enigmatic artist and single mother — who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.
Little Fires Everywhere is an interesting book full of dichotomies and symbolism around fires and starting over.
The story is set in the planned, manicured, and carefully regulated community of Shaker Heights where the Richardson family lives. They follow the rules and have a lovely, upper class suburban life, especially the mother, Elena.
Elena rents an apartment she owns to Mia and Pearl — and Mia is Elena’s polar opposite: an artistic, single mom rebel whose possessions fit in her car.
These two families are juxtaposed very well in this book, neither one quite understanding, and are rather suspicious of, the other. It’s easy to be drawn to the bohemian Mia and her carefree ways, though there were times when she annoyed me, especially when it came to her daughter’s needs. On the other hand, Elena was harder to like, but I did feel for her and her self-imposed need to do everything “right.” How each of these women mothers is scrutinized and neither is perfect, though it could be argued they are each doing the best that they can.
This leads the book to exploring nearly every aspect of what makes a mother and how to become a mother — pregnancy, miscarriage and infertility, adoption, abortion, surrogacy, virgin birth, kidnapping, …
Overall, I did enjoy this book, though it is a bit on the slow side, opting more to explore the characters and the themes rather than having lots of action.
Today I am happy to introduce author Cyndia Rios-Myers on my blog.
How do you come up with the ideas for your stories?
Dreams are a big source of inspiration. I have the wildest dreams sometimes.
Tell us about your writing process. How do you fuel your writing?
The motivation drives the medium. Depending on the “feel” for the story, I might write on my laptop, on my iPad, or in Composition notebooks.
What inspires you to write?
The “What Ifs” in life. The other side of the fork in the road. The road not taken.
I love books that explore What Ifs — so much fun to play with those ideas. Read more