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Publisher's Summary

Louise Erdrich, the New York Times best-selling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backward, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby's origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

©2017 Louise Erdrich (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”


Quotes from all of the big book industry expos have publishers and booksellers warning that the *unpredictable Republican president has opened a bull market for warnings of dystopia.* Louise Erdrich, speaking at a Harper Collins dinner in June 2017, recalled for the crowd how Trump's win drove her to take another look at a novel she had set aside years earlier, prior to writing The Plague of Doves (published 2008). *Future Home of the Living God, coming out this fall, tells of a society in which women's rights and democracy itself are endangered.*

For this novel the audio format is the perfect choice. Cedar Hawk Songmaker is dictating a letter to the 4 mo. old fetus she is carrying, so the listener hears what this 26 yr. old pregnant woman feels is most important to pass along to her child, uncensored and intimate. This is *a perilous time in the history of creation,* she begins, hinting at a world that, more suddenly than ever imagined, seems to be plummeting backward through evolution. Imagine riding a roller coaster and racing forward to that summit then at the very crest suddenly finding yourself rolling backwards watching the world revert to it's primitive forms as you pick up speed. Perilous, vulnerable, unstable, risky, even hazardous.

The parallel themes Erdrich weaves into the story seem to wind around every fact. With so many undercurrents beneath the surface story, a lazy listener could easily miss the urgency and substance here. Cedar talks to her baby about its development...*at the end of the 4 weeks the nervous system, spinal cord, liver, and kidneys start taking shape; at 8 weeks, bones, nose, eyelids, and toes start appearing and most of your organs are in place; you can respond to touch at this stage; by 5 months, you are over one-third of the size you will be at full term and show sensitivity to light, and respond to sound. . .* It's chilling to hear when weighted by the parallel deterioration of humanity. Cedar is on her way to meet her Ojibwe biological family. The parents that have raised her are citified Budhists, vegans; she herself converted to Catholicism. She informs her baby that it's a hot winter day as she drives through Minnesota, a dragonfly with a 3 ft. wingspan buzzes passed her windshield. She wonders if her child will ever see snow.

If you think the story sounds like something you've read before, Margaret Atwood has done this all before, and there are enough similarities to make it nearly impossible not to do some comparing. The Handmaid’s Tale feels more urgent, more contemporary and plausible, and with reason. From Time, Sept. 7 2017: *Atwood challenged herself to only include events in the book that had happened in history. The result was a tale about the future that can, at turns, feel all too contemporary. The story includes an environmental crisis, restrictions on abortion, marches for women’s rights and Americans fleeing to Canada.* Sounds not only similar, but timely. Atwood's advantage is that her story doesn't need to be imagined or extrapolated; it is eerily prescient. And...that was in 1984, with Ronald Wilson Reagan serving as the 40th President of the United States.

Fans of Erdrich will probably enjoy this book. It has her always elegant touch and insight, but feel in someways like it falls short of her other novels. For those that like a dystopian tale, you could possibly get tired of the religious themes and theologies that dominate the story instead of the details of a world falling into chaos. We might all agree that the ending was just plain old suck-y.

Latin line from Handmaid’s Tale: *Nolite te bastardes carborundorum* (Don’t let the bastards grind you down).

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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highly disappointing

wow this book feels like the author got 95% of the way there then ran out of steam and crapped it out to get a pay check. super disappointing. so many things left unexplained and the moment we've all been waiting for is passed in a page or two. I don't usually write reviews but I'm doing so here to help others avoid this book. just really disappointing the way such promise could fizzle out so badly.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Reads like bad Atwood fan fiction

Interesting premise (ie, letter to an unborn child as evolution starts working backward) but Erdrich quickly abandons exploring why events are unfolding the way they are. Dozens of unanswered questions. It unfolds like bad Handsmaid’s Tale fan fiction.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • cristina
  • Somerville, MA, United States
  • 11-27-17

Meh

I kept expecting it to develop...but didn't. In fact, variations of the same thing seemed to happen over and over (capture, escape, capture, escape). Was truly disappointed since it was recommended by people I usually agree with. I love dystopian novels but this one left me wanting for more.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Only what is necessary

This is a beautifully written book. Through a first-person narrative, the near future catastrophe reveals itself, especially relating to pregnant women. Though I’d like to know more of what was happening to society, it was not necessary to tell this specific story. The author is masterful at filling the scene with only what is necessary. I don’t always like the author reading their own book. In this case, it fit perfectly.

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So chillingly like Handmaid's Tale

loved it. started with print but needed to finish it quicker so I downloaded it.

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Scarily possible

I loved this story. It made me think, and that was the point, I expect.

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Riveting dystopia by Louise Erdrich!

Grim look at a future vision of infertility, evolution gone awry, and governmental apocalypse. Gripping.

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Unexpected.

Read the review. The book sounded so interesting. Started listening. Couldn’t get into the book, so I read more reviews with the hope that my interest would be renewed. I made the mistake of reading one and two star reviews, so maybe I was really looking for an out rather than finishing the book. Some of the comments resounded with me. One in particular was that something terrible had happened, but the reviewer was disappointed that what happened was never really revealed. I think that’s really true with most dystopian books; the collapse is never fully explained.

I trudged on and shortly after that something caught me and my interest was sparked.

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Best book I have read by this author

The author has written many great books confronting where we are as individuals. In this book she creates a all too realistic future that shows how broken we are as a nation. 17 children murdered at school or 20 or however many tommorow we as a society refuse to act. We are incapable of addressing our problems and fixing them.