**Thank you Little, Brown & Company for my free final copy in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.**
“Which (the disbelief) was stupid. She knew – it was her job as a teacher of history to know – how many horrors are legitimated in public daylight, against the will of most of the people.”
Imagine a country where women no longer have a say in what they can do with their own bodies. They can’t consent to an abortion, they can’t get in-vitro fertilization, and if they’re not married, they can’t decide to adopt a child. Sounds like one of “those” places far, far away from America, right?
In Leni Zumas’ latest novel, Red Clocks, this is actually the reality for all women living in the United States. The Constitution has been ratified to criminalize all such behavior, and the future looks so very grim.
Suddenly, all women’s behavior looks totally suspect. It seems like one would have to live always looking over her shoulder – waiting for the law to prosecute her under some obscure violation. Nowhere is safe; everybody is watching. It’s bleak and grim; ultimately, it feels very hopeless.
What made this novel so great is Zumas’ ability to present five women who are affected by this law in very different ways. It’s so easy to think about our own personal situations and how we would be affected if this imaginary world was, in fact, reality. However, Zumas expertly weaves five different perspectives into a powerful narrative that forces the reader to feel empathy and compassion for each scenario.
Sometimes these laws that are debated by our elected officials seem so irrelevant to us as regular citizens; it isn’t until the law is actually passed that we realize the impact it actually has on us as individuals. Many fall into the trapped way of thinking, “Oh, that doesn’t affect me because (**insert various excuses here**)” but this book masterfully showed why decisions have a way of impacting ALL OF US.
For example, maybe you’re a man and you think an abortion law means nothing to your personal freedoms. But what happens when your wife can’t get pregnant and you desperately want a baby? (Granted, in this novel, if you’re married, you still have another option not available to a single woman.) Or would if your daughter ends up pregnant and you know she is not in a place to become a mother at such a young age? If you think the best thing is to have an abortion? Sadly, in this novel, that choice isn’t up to you.
To me, this isn’t a discussion about whether or not abortion/IVF/adoption should be legal or not. It’s about how far we’re (as a country) willing to let the government make decisions for us. One of the founding principles of this country was freedom – freedom from tyranny and dictatorship. As a nation, we’re seeing various issues coming up for discussion that, I, for one, have taken for granted. I’m guilty of that “that will never happen/if it does happen, it won’t be that bad” mentality, so a book like this is a call to action to really examine our personal thoughts and beliefs to determine which of those are worth fighting to preserve. I don’t think we want to be caught in a situation like the book presents only to realize we should have started fighting long before it’s too late.