In Louise Erdrich’s new novel, humanity is facing its end as the result of what appears to be devolution, possibly resulting from climate change.
Cedar Hawks Songmaker is the adopted daughter of Sera and Glen Songmaker. Her biological mother is Ojibwa. “When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmaker and that I am the adopted child of Minneapolis liberals, and that when I went looking for my Ojibwa parents and found that I was born Mary Potts I hid the knowledge, maybe you’ll understand. Or not.” This is the first line of Cedar’s letter to her unborn child and one of the best lines of the book.
We meet Cedar after she has received a letter from her biological mother, Mary Potts, known as Sweetie, and decides to go pay her a visit on the reservation. Thus begins a relationship with Sweetie, her husband Eddy and Cedar’s half-sister…Mary. In the meantime, Cedar is pregnant and shares the information with Sweetie and Eddy, although she has not yet told Sera and Glen.
The rest of the novel focuses on the potential decline of humanity and the rounding up of pregnant women and women of child bearing age. There is a lot that goes on in between, but really, that is the gist of this, at best, so so novel, by this great author.
The story is a fairly routine dystopian story, beautifully written with a completely unsatisfying ending. When I think about all the great books there are out there to read, and although I generally enjoy and appreciate Louise Erdrich novels, I grudgingly say take a pass. If you would like to read this novel you can reserve it at the Cuyahoga County Public Library by clicking here.