“I don’t think I really believed it would happen. I don’t think any of us did.”
Author: Christina Dalcher
Page count: 326 (hardcover edition)
Imagine a world where women have a 100-word allowance each day. Go over that number, and you’ll wish you hadn’t.
That’s the reality for Dr, no, Mrs Jean McClellan, and all girls & women over 3 months old. No title, other than the one of ownership; no voting; no work but housework; no words, no signing, no gestures; no privacy. Not even any mail. The band around their wrist, calibrated to their voice, counts upwards throughout the day, enforcing quietness and submission to male dominance. And then, as if by total irony, the research Jean had been working on (until she couldn’t) was needed, beginning the fight for the right to have a voice.
Dalcher has created a masterful piece of literature, which uniquely combines the politics and turbulence of external factors, with family dynamics, not all of them good. Jean has to raise four kids, three boys and a girl, whilst adjusting to life within this new, intolerant country. Her husband, Patrick, works in the White House and is so wonderfully complex as a character, I could write a whole post on the mastery of it. It would, however, give away some major spoilers so I will save that for a time when people know how this book ends.
Add into this, Dalcher’s fantastic use of intersectional politics and identities, and there’s an element of this novel that makes you terrified for the future. The hints of Bible Belt religionism, nuclear family discourse, and corrupt politics make this book incredibly exciting and fast-paced. My one criticism – stylistically, it might have been a bit more impactful for each chapter to be 100 words or less.
That doesn’t really limit my love for this book, though.
Have you read Vox? What did you think? If you haven’t got a copy yet, you can pick one up here (not an affiliated link – I just love people buying books!)