Reviewed by Chris Daniel Loza
FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD
By Louise Erdrich
288 pp. Harper.
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich is a slow, hellish descent into dystopia. Whereas dystopian novels presently depict a degraded society with a clinical summary on how things came to pass, this novel traces how a functioning society crumbles into chaos.
When life itself is threatened, a new order ascends in the US to preserve the future of human beings. It doesn’t happen overnight. It starts from whispers about nature going awry. The news, with its conflicting narratives, further confuses everyone such that fake news proliferates and a sense of paranoia starts to develop all over the country.
Meanwhile, Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted, is relentless to meet her true Native American parents, if only to find some answers while she’s four months pregnant. On her drive up north from her hometown in Minneapolis, a vast empty field carries a sign that says: Future Home of the Living God. She eyes a car with a bumper sticker saying about a Rapture. Yet she finds nothing unusual about them. Until the new government, the Church of the New Constitution, hunts her down because of her pregnancy. Then it becomes a chase, a struggle for freedom and survival, as the world faces a terrifying truth about evolution.
Erdrich’s prose is empathic and sometimes painful to read. The entire novel is written as Cedar’s diary to her unborn child. It’s personal and introspective; all her fears, anxiety, self-doubt, anger, and pain are reflected through her words. But there is also her stubborn will to survive. Cedar writes because she feels compelled to tell her child what came before: the underappreciated world we live in, the freedom we used to enjoy, the food we used to have, and everything else we’ve taken for granted because we never thought they’d disappear. The saddest thing is to never realize that we lived in heaven until we are in hell. The story ends on a wistful note, a mix of resigned fate and tempered hope.
The most alarming aspect of the book is how a totalitarian regime creeps in, almost imperceptibly, while the rest of us are busy with our gadgets and our lives. The novel is a dire warning that we live in such times. If we remain complacent we will soon wake up one day with our freedom shackled and our way of life diminished.
I find the book an excellent and powerful read. It’s a novel that invites reflection about the world we live in and the world we could possibly have, not in the far distant future—but in a year or a decade if good men do nothing. Future Home of the Living God is the perfect read for those who want more of the recent Emmy Award winner for Best Drama Series, The Handmaid’s Tale, itself an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same name. There are similarities, but Louise Erdrich’s novel stand on its own with its chilling depiction of a paranoid society and the painful price that women must pay in a world gone backwards.
Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich will be available soon at Fully Booked. To reserve a copy in advance, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris has written on Wattpad, yellowpads, and notepads. A few of his articles are in the dusty archives of Inquirer’s Youngblood and Philippine Star’s My Favorite Book, while one story got lost among the Kindles on Amazon. He works as a Systems Administrator by day and a recluse at night. You can reach him on Twitter and Instagram @cd_loza.
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]