Any story about motherhood captures my attention pretty quickly. And this one has the perk of being set in Minneapolis. In it, a 26-year-old pregnant native woman named Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted by very white, liberal, vegan parents, faces a new wave of politics in the U.S. when evolution is being called into question and pregnant women become intense subjects of study.
This is the first Louise Erdrich book I have read, and I am disappointed in myself for the delay. She is a Native American author from North Dakota and Minnesota, and I am looking forward to adding The Round House to my list this year.
I read The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood a year or so before the Hulu hype, and so I was instantly drawn to the tension of comparing the two feminist, dystopian novels. Is there room for more than one? Will Erdrich come in second best because she published after Atwood? I started researching to see if Atwood had read or had anything to say about Cedar Hawk Songmaker, and I stumbled upon this: an interview of Erdrich, by none other than Atwood, and in Elle magazine! My conclusion is women continue to need a spot at the table, and our reproductive rights are so very fragile. Both stories frightened me and kept me engaged.
Part of me regretted reading this as a 26-year-old who just miscarried. Pregnancy is also fragile. But I think it will always be a relevant time to talk about who we are bringing into the world, how, and why.
Overall, I recommend this book if you are a dystopian junkie, Minnesota resident, like to think or like to be sad.