Library Journal Review
Zumas's second novel (after The Listeners) presents a not-so-distant future where women's reproductive rights have been denied again. In this future, the passage of the Personhood Amendment has overturned Roe v. Wade, establishing every embryo or fetus as a person possessing all the rights (and thus protections) experienced by the rest of the U.S. citizenry. The narrative follows four women residing in a small coastal Oregon town, each struggling to forge an identity while facing pervasive misogyny. The author amplifies the debate about women's rights by referring to each woman by a noun rather than their proper names. The Mender, the Biographer, the Daughter, and the Wife alternately reveal their -intertwined stories. Ro, the Biographer, is also writing a book about the exploits of Eivor, a 19th-century female polar explorer who share these struggles for women's rights to be recognized as legitimate. In language both poetic and political, Zumas presents characters who are strong and determined; each is an individual in her own right. -VERDICT 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. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 7/31/17.]-Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Zumas (The Listeners) imagines a palpable, powerful alternate reality in which the United States has passed the Personhood amendment, reversing Roe v. Wade and making abortion a crime. Four women whose futures changed overnight with the passage of the amendment struggle for equality in rural Oregon. Roberta Stephens has chosen to pursue a teaching career and faces an uphill battle to have a child in an oppressively gendered system while writing a biography of an obscure female polar explorer named Eivor Minervudottir. Roberta's star pupil is high school student Mattie Quarles, who, finding herself pregnant, makes a run for the Canadian border. Susan Korsmo, the wife of one of Roberta's colleagues, is quietly suffocating as an overburdened mother of two. Finally there is Gin Percival, a forest-dwelling "mender" providing illegal gynecological services until she is arrested for medical malpractice. As Gin's court proceedings devolve into a modern-day witch trial, the fates of these women converge-with parallels to the life of Eivor-as they are pushed into a series of bold challenges to the masculine power structures that stifle them. Zumas manages a loose yet consistently engaging tone as she illustrates the extent to which the self-image of modern women is shaped by marriage, career, or motherhood. Dark humor further enhances the novel, making this a thoroughly affecting and memorable political parable. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.