Future Home of the Living God
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
I wanted to like this book way more than I actually did. There were elements that I really enjoyed, don’t get me wrong. The premise was great, and the writing was masterful. It just didn’t land, unfortunately. While I didn’t hate this book, neither was I able to love it. It wasn’t bad; it was merely forgettable.
“We are so brief. A one-day dandelion. A seedpod skittering across the ice. We are a feather falling from the wing of a bird. I don’t know why it is given to us to be so mortal and to feel so much. It is a cruel trick, and glorious.”
I loved the process of Cedar getting in touch with her Native American heritage through meeting her birth mother and that side of her family. The premise, that evolution suddenly begins regressing and women find themselves losing their reproductive rights, was an intriguing one. The lack of said rights reminded me of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Pregnant women are being taken off the streets to be observed and who knows what else. Other women are being forcibly drafted into womb service, being artificially inseminated by frozen eggs and sperm in order to prolong Homo sapiens’ reign over the earth before their evolutionary forefathers begin reappearing in infant form.
Evolutionary reversal to this extent is a unique take on the apocalypse. One of my favorite elements of this story was the role the U.S. Postal Service played. Strange, I know. But suddenly the postal service is the only reliable method of long distance communication, and in a way they are keeping the nation together. Protected by the National Guard, the postal service delivers letters and passes along news and, on occasion, helps smuggle pregnant women across the border.
The thing I loved most about Cedar Songmaker was honestly her name. I tried so hard to like her. She’s intelligent and religious, but not blindly so. But there was something about her personality and her choices that grated on me. So much anguish could’ve been avoided if she would have just STAYED INSIDE. I know that her parentage was supposed to be a plot twist, but too many hints had been dropped for it to come as a surprise. I didn’t actively dislike her, but I was never able to form a true connection with her character.
But my least favorite element of this book is something common among literary fiction: it was marred by an ambiguous ending. I understand the reasoning behind authors’ decisions to leave endings vague and open-ended, but I am always frustrated by such endings. While they’re possibly truer to real life, I read to escape. I want an ending, and am always left unsatisfied when I finish a last page without receiving any closure.
Future Home of the Living God has an interesting plot, and is told well. It just didn’t land for me.
You can purchase a copy of the book here, with free shipping worldwide!