Find it at your library!

I shelled out cash for this book even though I could have waited on a library copy because I saw one too many white male reviewer say, “Do we really need another Handmaid’s Tale?” and that is the kind of crap I feel compelled to answer with my wallet.

Because the answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is an emphatic YES. We do need more books like The Handmaid’s Tale. Because news flash, whiny white guys, none of the stuff that Margaret Atwood was writing about and rebelling against back in 1985 has been fixed. So until that beautiful, blessed day finally arrives, I hope and pray that talented, gorgeous writers like Louise Erdrich will continue to churn out books that make us all confront the reality of the world we live in.

Also, are we really only allowed one heavy-hitting dystopian feminist novel? Is that a one and done situation? Because if that’s how publishing works, we are WAY over our quota of self-indulgent, navel-gazing novels by privileged white dudes. I think you guys can spot us one every 32 years.

And here’s something else to think about: Atwood has been criticized (rightly, in my opinion) for inadequately addressing race in The Handmaid’s Tale. So can we admit it is possible that Erdrich, as a woman of color, might have something to add to the conversation around women’s rights that hasn’t already been said by a white woman?

I don’t think Future Home of the Living God is a perfect novel. Some key plot points are glossed over in a couple of lines, while multiple pages are spent dwelling on seemingly minor or irrelevant detail. It leaves a lot of loose ends lying around, which is uncomfortable in a book about so bleak a future. But the last two pages knocked me senseless with their stark beauty. This is absolutely a book worth reading, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

Find it at your library!

I have what you might call a road rage problem. This girl who normally will do just about anything to avoid confrontation somehow morphs into Lady Hulk Smash when ensconced behind the wheel of my Subaru. Rude, inattentive, and unsafe drivers are everywhere! (I want to add, “And it’s getting worse all the time!” but I’m aware how old and crotchety that makes me sound, so I’ll sneak it in here in a parenthetical so I can pretend like I’m not saying it.) I keep telling myself I need to stop being so surprised when other drivers are jerks, because a large percentage of my indignation stems from my disbelief that people can actually be so awful. If I just accepted that the vast majority of people, if given the choice, will act selfishly instead of unselfishly, then maybe I could release some of this anger. On the road, I aspire to weary resignation. At least then I could stop grinding my teeth.

One of the ways I attempt to make my commute less soul-sucking is by listening to audio books in the car. The Last Days of Emily Lindsey distracted me so well, I reached a state mellow enough that I didn’t even mind pulling up to that one really long stoplight right as it turned from yellow to red. Who cares if I had to sit there an extra three minutes (not that I’ve ever timed that light or have any knowledge of how much time I lose if I have to wait through an entire cycle)? That just meant I’d be three extra minutes closer to finding out what the heck was going on with the case.

And the case is super strange! Alternating timelines can be tough to pull off, but this is one of the most effective uses I’ve seen. In the present, Steve is a cop who has struggled with nightmares and visions his entire life. Of course he has to keep them secret so he can stay on the job, but it’s tough to keep your problems quiet if you start blacking out at crime scenes. Steve and his partner are investigating a strange attack on an infamous gossip blogger named Emily Lindsey. She is found at her home, nearly catatonic and covered in someone else’s blood. She won’t respond to questioning, so Steve is on his own to try to figure out what happened to her. In the other (even weirder) timeline, a group of kids in a strange communal living situation hatch a plan to escape their rooms one night to uncover the truth about the odd place where they live. And eventually, yes, these two off-the-wall storylines come together, but not exactly how I expected, which was a fun surprise.

If you like super suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat reads, I can’t think of a better book for you. It might even cure your road rage.