Reviewed by: Jennifer Chretien, Reference Librarian
Rating: 4 stars
It is the near future and the world has changed on a cellular level. Evolution has come to halt and is beginning to reverse itself. Chickens now have skin like lizards, dragonflies are emerging with over 3 foot wing spans, and human babies are born resembling Neanderthals with alarming frequency. All of these environmental changes result in a food shortage. This food shortage causes the United States government to fall and a new religious world order to rise in its place. There are no more cell phones, televisions programs, or entertainment. Pregnant women are rounded up for scientific study. There is a person called “Mother” that is your news source and the government uses drones to spy on its citizens regularly.
At the center of the story is a young pregnant woman named Cedar. Cedar was adopted as a baby and is on a quest to find her Ojibwa birth parents for medical reasons. The book is told through her journal entries to her unborn baby. In it we learn about her search for her birth parents, her religious struggles, and her unwavering love for her baby she has not yet met. Through her journal, Cedar describes the lengths she and her loved ones go through to keep her hidden from the government. It is at times a bleak future painted for Cedar but the feeling of hope and faith resound throughout the book.
This book is an interesting departure for Erdrich. She stays true to her trademark lyrical style with a Native American focus but turns it into a dystopian thriller. While the premise is dark, her beautifully descriptive prose keeps the story from becoming depressing. Erdrich’s description of snow in one passage was so gorgeous that it actually makes me look forward to our first snowfall!
Cedar remains hopeful and curious despite her uncertain present. Here is one passage Cedar writes in her journal:
"The sky has bloomed, it is verdant with stars. Deep, brilliant, soft. I am comforted because nothing we have done to this earth affects them. I think of the neurons in your brain connecting, branching, forming the capacity I hope you will have for wonder."
While Future Home of the Living God is similar to V for Vendetta, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Children of Men, it is also something vastly different. It is the story of science gone wrong and the overreach of the government true, but it is also about the bonds of family and how it is through love that one can withstand anything. This is not a light read by any measure but it is a book that will stimulate your mind and also entertain you.