Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

Future Home of the Living God

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is...

Title:Future Home of the Living God
Author:
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Edition Language:English

Future Home of the Living God Reviews

  • Diane S ☔

    So, we have screwed up the world, no surprise there, but this time it has reached a cellular level. Evolution is taking a backwards step, chickens that now have the skins of lizards, a dragonfly with a three foot wing span, winter's that are no more and childbearing women are desperately needed. Pregnant women become prey to a new government intent on studying them and their fetuses. Not your typical world for an Erdrich novel, but a captivating one nontheless. She hasn't abandoned her Ojibwe ba

    So, we have screwed up the world, no surprise there, but this time it has reached a cellular level. Evolution is taking a backwards step, chickens that now have the skins of lizards, a dragonfly with a three foot wing span, winter's that are no more and childbearing women are desperately needed. Pregnant women become prey to a new government intent on studying them and their fetuses. Not your typical world for an Erdrich novel, but a captivating one nontheless. She hasn't abandoned her Ojibwe background, instead she has inserted it front and center in the person of our narrator. Cedar, a newly pregnant, adopted half Ojibwe woman, who is searching out her real parents as the novel begins.

    It is Cedar's story we follow, sometimes through letters written to her unborn child, as she attempts to navigate this new world order. A world, where using the basics of The Patriot Act, the new government is able to spy on anyone at anytime, using drones and newly developed technology. A person called Mother, appears on television screens, now that nothing else is made nor shown. It is through Cedar that we meet the few other characters in this story.

    A strange world, but as Erdrich tells it, an all together believable one. Her descriptions are a marvel, beautiful and strange at the same time. The combining of the elements, cultural, political, and personal, amazingly wrought. This is Erdrich, stretching her wings, or less poetically stated, her writing skills and it made for entertaining reading. Maybe, also a warning, but not without some infused hope. Marvelous.

  • Angela M

    I woke up thinking about this book and even though I had finished reading it, I wasn't ready to leave it behind. I haven't been able to get it out of my head enough to engage in another book. This captivating story is beautifully written as we expect from Louise Erdrich. To those who hold dear Erdrich's stories filled with her love of her Native American heritage, I would urge you to not shy away from this book because you think she may have moved that aside in what may seem like different kind

    I woke up thinking about this book and even though I had finished reading it, I wasn't ready to leave it behind. I haven't been able to get it out of my head enough to engage in another book. This captivating story is beautifully written as we expect from Louise Erdrich. To those who hold dear Erdrich's stories filled with her love of her Native American heritage, I would urge you to not shy away from this book because you think she may have moved that aside in what may seem like different kind of story. In this warning of an apocalyptic world, she has not left it behind, rather it is front and center in the character of Cedar Hawk Songmaker and her family.

    Cedar has lived a comfortable, happy life with a caring couple who adopted her at birth. She hasn't made any attempts to find her birth parents until she finds herself pregnant and wants to find out if there is anything in their medical history that she should know to protect her unborn child. As the story unfolds, she has to do so much more to protect herself and her baby in this time of chaos - with seemingly backward evolution, a government that has fallen apart, and the hunt for pregnant women. Like many expectant mother's, she keeps tract of her baby's development and lovingly speaks to the baby in this intimate first person narrative, a letter to her child. Her journey to motherhood in this chilling world where she has to hide, to escape being caught is haunting and harrowing. A gripping, scary story as she makes her way, unsure of who to trust. In spite of not knowing what the future holds for her and her baby, what she does know for sure is the love that surrounds her. I loved the relationships and the characters in this story - from Cedar to her parents , Sera and Glen, her biological mother, Mary Potts and Mary's husband Eddy to her postman Hiro.

    My rating is 4.5 stars because I needed to know more in the end, but I have to give it 5 stars for the thought provoking and beautiful work that Erdrich gives us. I reluctantly admit that this is only the second book that I have read by Erdrich, but I plan to change that soon.

    I received an advanced copy of this book from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.

  • Jen

    Erdrich is another one of my favourite authors. LaRose was exquisite. Now this read is of a dystopian flavour, and call me a heretic, but I'm not truly a believer...That is, until Erdrich spun a tail so rich she has converted or bewitched me. Either way, I'm a believer. Or so the song goes.

    Cedar, 4 months pregnant, locates her biological Ojibwa parents during a time of flux when the world is changing. Pregnant women are corralled into hospitals -babies removed from them. Cedar hides until her du

    Erdrich is another one of my favourite authors. LaRose was exquisite. Now this read is of a dystopian flavour, and call me a heretic, but I'm not truly a believer...That is, until Erdrich spun a tail so rich she has converted or bewitched me. Either way, I'm a believer. Or so the song goes.

    Cedar, 4 months pregnant, locates her biological Ojibwa parents during a time of flux when the world is changing. Pregnant women are corralled into hospitals -babies removed from them. Cedar hides until her due date in various locations. She has both parents working at hiding her so she can remain with her child. And the love that surrounds this unborn child, prevails.

    This was on the verge of being a thriller. One where I wasn't exactly sure what was going on and it didn't really matter as I just went with it.

    Great characters, plot development all them wholesome good things that make a good story great. Erdrich's phenomenal descriptive writing of snow, rocks (yes!) and the ominous evil of Mother. I lived and breathed it.

    I keep saying I don't like the dystopian genre, but this is the 3rd one I've read (Bird box & Good Morning, Midnight) to convince me, I must be in denial.

    4 ⭐️

  • Bam

    In this dystopian novel, Cedar Hawk Songmaker is four months pregnant at the end of the world as we know it. Evolution has come to a screeching halt and is seemingly rapidly reversing. Society is falling apart; food is scarce; nobody knows exactly what is happening. The US government has been replaced by something called the Church of the New Constitution and they are actively rounding up all pregnant women to study them and their fetuses.

    We learn all this through journal entries that Cedar is

    In this dystopian novel, Cedar Hawk Songmaker is four months pregnant at the end of the world as we know it. Evolution has come to a screeching halt and is seemingly rapidly reversing. Society is falling apart; food is scarce; nobody knows exactly what is happening. The US government has been replaced by something called the Church of the New Constitution and they are actively rounding up all pregnant women to study them and their fetuses.

    We learn all this through journal entries that Cedar is writing for her baby so that the child will someday know what was happening while Cedar was carrying him. The story is filled with the love of a mother for her unborn child: her protectiveness and worry, her hopes and dreams for the future.

    Cedar herself was adopted and raised by a liberal Minneapolis couple, Sera and Glen, who are Buddhists, but as a rebellious young adult, Cedar has turned to Catholicism, studying and writing articles for a magazine she publishes called Zeal. She is particularly interested in Kateri Tekakwitha, the patron saint of the Ojibwa people, the tribe of her birth mother.

    When she first learns she's pregnant, she decides to seek out her birth mother, Mary Potts, on the Ojibwa reservation, to learn more about her baby's genetic background. There she also meets her grandmother, sister and step-father, who is writing articles on reasons not to kill oneself.

    After returning to her own home, her baby's father Phil moves in with her to protect her in the rather hopeless desire to keep her pregnancy hidden. Once in 'the system,' Cedar is driven to do things she never thought possible to protect her unborn child. 'That my body is capable of building a container for the human spirit inspired in me the will to survive. To bear this child, I will go through whatever pain I must. This is the Incarnation. The spirit gives flesh meaning.' So beautifully written!

    Throughout the story, there is an air of mystery, since we do not know exactly what is going on in the world at large. Most communication has been cut off: no cellphones, no tv news, etc. And there are unanswered questions in Cedar's own life: like who is her birth father? What has happened to Phil? Cedar is also kept in the dark about the condition of her baby; they will not tell her what the many ultrasounds and tests they perform reveal. But Cedar is convinced she is carrying a boy child with all the symbolism that involves with her religious views. She speculates on whether her child will ever be able to read her journals. Will he have the capacity to learn, to speak?

    And finally, Erdrich's description of snow is just exquisite. Will our environment warm enough that someday we will no longer be able to experience the cold pleasures of snow?

  • Linda

    "My body is accomplishing impossible things, and now there is something wrong, most terribly wrong........

    Only Louise Erdrich can take a cold, foreboding futuristic note and spin and weave it into a haunting musical score of soundless proportions. The down-the-road specs of light now settle in the here and now. Reality gone awry.

    Cedar Hawk Songmaker steps forward in the Native American style of Erdrich, but this offering by the talented one is laced in a parable of evolution drowning in a rushin

    "My body is accomplishing impossible things, and now there is something wrong, most terribly wrong........

    Only Louise Erdrich can take a cold, foreboding futuristic note and spin and weave it into a haunting musical score of soundless proportions. The down-the-road specs of light now settle in the here and now. Reality gone awry.

    Cedar Hawk Songmaker steps forward in the Native American style of Erdrich, but this offering by the talented one is laced in a parable of evolution drowning in a rushing stream of reversion. The world is rapidly regressing into the flora and fauna of long ago extinction. Cedar, four months pregnant, finds herself caught up in the throes of a new dysfunctional society in which women are cast into breeding houses in order to preserve rare offspring that haven't descended down this spiral of evolutionary change.

    Cedar begins writing a journal for her unborn child in the faint hope that this baby will know the beauty of a "once upon a time" world. It makes one shudder to think of the parallels to the Margaret Atwood novel. But Erdrich follows through on her wise choice of the familiar Native American theme in which a great people are visited upon, once again, by the intrusive nature of an invading culture. It works here and brings Future Home of the Living God to another level and in a different direction.

    Cedar, adopted by a free and open couple from Minnesota, grows up caught between refusal and longing to know the Native American mother of her birth. When she finally opens the door and crosses the threshold into "blood of my blood", she will engage with individuals of her known culture who have been visited upon by extremes of modern lifestyles.

    While not my favorite of the rich offerings by Louise Erdrich, it adds a new level to the creative mind of this stellar author. Even the reference of "Future Home" reminds the reader that forecasting what lies ahead can be filled with a myriad of wandering thoughts in a frightful and uncertain direction.

  • Emily May

    and other GR reviewers.

    has a fascinating premise, but it actually spends very little time exploring the devolution of humanity idea (essentially, evolution going backwards with all species becoming more primitive at an alarming rate) and instead

    and other GR reviewers.

    has a fascinating premise, but it actually spends very little time exploring the devolution of humanity idea (essentially, evolution going backwards with all species becoming more primitive at an alarming rate) and instead

    .

    It's surprising that this book has received such positive reviews from critics given that it is highly derivative. I'm already tired of these Atwood copycats -

    is another - and I'm sure this is just the beginning. It cannot be a coincidence that they are all popping up while the hype of the Hulu series is still fresh.

    This book is split into three parts. Part one is an

    where Cedar Hawk Songmaker finally meets her native birth mother and considers how she feels about being pregnant. The whole book is written in diary entries to "you", her unborn child. Perhaps this is characteristic of Erdrich's style in that she explores daily habits, dreams and circling thoughts with little actually happening, but I don't think it's a great choice for a book exploring a dystopian concept.

    The effect of the devolution is that very few "original" babies are born - those resembling humanity as we know it. Many women experience stillbirths; many more die themselves. The new theocracy that grows out of this chaos - “The Church of the New Constitution” - starts rounding up pregnant and fertile women to seize the babies of the former, and forcibly inseminate the latter.

    Most of the action takes place in part two. Too bad most of this action also took place thirty years ago in

    . It is the same story - a man, woman and their child in hiding from a theocratic government, until the woman is captured and sent off to a place where many women are kept. Women are imprisoned to be used for their fertile bodies. Even the "Mother" character who lectures the women on becoming empowered through God’s blessing of a child is reminiscent of Atwood's "Aunts".

    I found too much of the book to be dull, and the most dynamic and exciting parts were those ripped straight from one of my favourite books of all time. I was also disappointed how this book wasn't really about the devolution aspect at all, but only the infertility dystopia that grew out of it. Was this a poor choice for my first Louise Erdrich book or is she simply not for me?

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  • Elyse

    Cedar Hawk Songmaker grew up in a liberal home to hippie white parents, Glen and Sera, in Minneapolis. Exceptions were made for Cedar’s adoption — bypassing the Indian Child welfare Act. Cedar’s birth mother was Mary Potts, an Ojibwe mother.

    Glen and Sera didn’t practice any religion - but when a very pregnant Cedar was 26 years old she turned to Catholicism looking for answers and family connections.

    She also was wanted to meet Mary Potts....seeking as much information she could to provide for

    Cedar Hawk Songmaker grew up in a liberal home to hippie white parents, Glen and Sera, in Minneapolis. Exceptions were made for Cedar’s adoption — bypassing the Indian Child welfare Act. Cedar’s birth mother was Mary Potts, an Ojibwe mother.

    Glen and Sera didn’t practice any religion - but when a very pregnant Cedar was 26 years old she turned to Catholicism looking for answers and family connections.

    She also was wanted to meet Mary Potts....seeking as much information she could to provide for her unborn child. For an entire year - prior she knew Mary had reached out to her through a letter, but Cedar was too angry at the time, wanting nothing to do with her. But now with a purpose bigger than just herself — she was desperate to meet her biological parents.

    While 4 months pregnant, Cedar travels north to meet her Ojibwe family....life is becoming more challenging- coming undone: a type of mysterious reverse evolution, political breakdowns, winters without snow, and natural disasters. Glen and Sera, her adoptive parents, tried to warn Cedar about the imminent frightening conditions.

    And this was - for me - the first sign of this being a dystopia novel.

    “Every service system seems controlled by a separate group. Every city service negotiates with other services. People are forming their own civilian militias, their own rescue posses, hiding pregnant women. Nobody says where of course. The first thing that happens at the end of the world is that we don’t know what is happening”.

    As dystopian novels go...this book has enough ‘relationship’ scenes with characters to really love - I never felt too far off in ‘outer limits’.

    And.......if I were pregnant- I sure as hell wouldn’t want the government to get their hands on me. Cedar and her husband Phil didn’t either!

    As an ‘emotional’ read ... I liked this book .....mostly written as a journal entry from Cedar to her unborn child.

    As an intellectual read: creation, God, biological apocalypse: some of it went right over my head.

    As for Louise Erdich..... it goes without saying, she is an incredible talent! - Immensely gifted writer!

    Thank you Will, ( who stayed with us this summer and we had a blast), his wife, and Harbercollins for the gift of sending me this book with a box of 5 others! Thanks Will... very sweet ... to all of you!

  • Will Byrnes

    Cedar Hawk Songmaker, 26, is writing a journal to her unborn child, very much hoping there will be a world left in which he or she can read it. This is a real concern, as the world appears to be going haywire. Plants and creatures, including people, are not breeding true. Giving birth, itself, has become a dodgy proposition. And who knows what will emerge?

    The story follows Cedar, who had been adopted as an infant by white liberal city folks, through connecting with her Native American biological mother’s family, attempting to see her pregnancy through to term, and attempting to maintain her safety and freedom in a world where danger and attempts at intrusive control dominate.

    - image from The Daily Beast

    In the beginning was the title. Caren Wilton, in a 2006 interview with Erdrich a New Zealand site,

    , reports Erdrich saying she started with a title taken from a sign she had seen in an empty field:

    . It was to be a diversion from the more historical novels she is known for. She had a somewhat different focus in this early vision of the book.

    At some point she opted to write something else. Her next adult book was

    . She got a bit of a prod to return to it in 2016. According to

    ,

    among other things. It is not clear how much of the book she had already written prior to this, and what changes she made to what she had already done.

    Dystopian visions abound these days. It is impossible, in considering this novel, not to summon to mind

    , Margaret Atwood’s (and television’s) concerns about human fertility, risky science, a planet rebelling against the outrages of a waste-based society, and women being restored to a subservient place in the culture with extreme prejudice. Is the dramatic decline in fertility in both Atwood’s and Erdrich’s books, nature objecting to what homo sapiens has done to its home world? Is it a specific natural reaction to scientific overreach, an experiment or project gone terribly wrong? Among other reasons, the meanderings here give voice to the notion that heightened intelligence is not a particularly good quality to have in a species looking to stick around for a long time. Maybe being the brightest bulb as a species means burning out the fastest.

    Motherhood is an obvious stream here. Beginning with the opening epigraph (noted at the top of the review), from Hildegaard of Bingen, manifesting with a plethora of characters named Mary, and including an internet-based Big Brother sort named

    . Cedar is connecting with her birth mother after 26 years of separation. Is Cedar more from her adoptive parents or more from Mary Potts, her bio-mom? There is a parallel theme that looks at God and religion. Cedar is a convert to Catholicism, in fact even reads nerd-level religious journals, and engages in an ongoing internal dialogue about the meaning of what she sees in the more universal sense. A Native American saint,

    (like Cedar, an [adoptee]…who converted to Catholicism as a teen) has been sighted.

    Where do we come from and where are we going, as individuals, and as a species? The notion, noted in the largest of the review-opening quotes, persists throughout, and is indistinguishable from the meandering thoughts on God and the nature of existence

    This is not a typical Louise Erdrich novel, at least not judging by her most recent work, anyway. The story-telling is much more linear. No major time jumps to speak of, and the action remains focused on Cedar’s experiences. Also, while she is fond of magical realism, this has a more science-fictiony sheath within which to consider existential questions than the magical realism historical work she usually favors. It is definitely fun, in a dark way, when extinct creatures again roam the earth as humanity is de-volving. Don’t think too hard about how those beasties might have come to be, how they might have been raised to adulthood. Devolution is happening. Don’t sweat the details.

    Cedar is a mostly sympathetic character, so one can relate to her struggle, as one could to Atwood’s heroine. Enough of the details of this world make sense to keep us in the story. Things like Native Americans looking at an opportunity to reclaim ancient land, and religious extremists using their organizational skills to take over and institute an autocratic theocracy (a redundancy, and probably a Mike Pence wet dream) make sense, particularly given the 20th and 21st century experience of failing states across the world. The details of societal devolution are fascinating.

    I had one gripe in particular, a character who I felt was given short shrift. A man, who had been helping many women escape the authorities, gives up some information under torture, as I expect most of us would, is then seen as an enemy instead of another victim, and is turned away. Hmmm. This is not comparable to her recent masterpiece-level novels,

    and

    , but, overall,

    a pretty good read. You can take my word for it.

    Review Posted – 12/1/2017

    Published - 11/14/2017

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    Links to the author’s

    and

    pages. Erdrich's personal site redirects to the site Birchbark Books. She owns the store.

    Other Louise Erdrich novels I have reviewed

    -----

    -----

    -----

    -----

    -----

    -----Paris Review – Winter 2010 -

    by Lisa Halliday

    -----Noted – April 2006

    - Caren Wilton

    -----Alchetron -

    - a nice history of Erdrich and her work

    ----- Flowers for Socrates - November 2016 -

    - this blog entry intersperses poems by Erdrich with bits of her history. A snippet of one in particular caught my interest, given her fondness for the surreal, from

  • Simon

    So the premise for Erdrich’s latest novel is really interesting. The world is ending as we know it with evolution seemingly reversing (though you only really see this once with a sabre toothed tiger that I loved) and healthy ‘normal’ babies becoming scarce. Fascinating right? Yet sadly this book feels a slog. The first 70 pages being spent on the aloof narrator, pregnant obviously, finding her biological parents rather than paying attention to the end of the world and the safety of her child...

    So the premise for Erdrich’s latest novel is really interesting. The world is ending as we know it with evolution seemingly reversing (though you only really see this once with a sabre toothed tiger that I loved) and healthy ‘normal’ babies becoming scarce. Fascinating right? Yet sadly this book feels a slog. The first 70 pages being spent on the aloof narrator, pregnant obviously, finding her biological parents rather than paying attention to the end of the world and the safety of her child... then finally goes into hiding (not even on the run) and then a twist and then repeat cycle. A shame. I had heard amazing things about Erdrich and saw glimmers but the payoff was almost non existent. Like the future of the human race in this book ironically. Or not.

  • Dianne

    This is a different book for Louise Erdrich and I don't think people for the most part are loving it, but I did! I really enjoy dystopian novels and couple that with Erdrich's writing and, well.....she had me spellbound by the end of the first page.

    The story is narrated by Cedar Hawk Songmaker in a journal format. She is 4 months pregnant and uses the journal as a device to speak to her unborn child. Cedar lives in Minnesota at a time of upheaval and uncertainty; evolution is running backwards a

    This is a different book for Louise Erdrich and I don't think people for the most part are loving it, but I did! I really enjoy dystopian novels and couple that with Erdrich's writing and, well.....she had me spellbound by the end of the first page.

    The story is narrated by Cedar Hawk Songmaker in a journal format. She is 4 months pregnant and uses the journal as a device to speak to her unborn child. Cedar lives in Minnesota at a time of upheaval and uncertainty; evolution is running backwards at an alarming (and kind of unbelievable) rate. In one generation's time, flora and fauna are mutating strangely and women are unable to bear living children, more often than not dying in childbirth.

    Somewhat predictably, government and religion merge into a theocracy called the Church of the New Constitution. This entity begins rounding up pregnant women and holding them in converted prisons and asylums, overseeing their gestation in the hopes of harvesting children who are viable and not devolving.

    I simply could not put the book down. Anxiety kept me gripping the book covers in a stranglehold as I followed Cedar's attempts to keep herself and her child safe. I loved her relationships with her lover, her adoptive and Ojibwe biological families; her reflections on religion, philosophy and society; and her fighting spirit.

    I know there are plot similarities to "The Handmaid's Tale," but so what? This work stands on its own, in my opinion. I agree it is not Erdrich's very best novel, but I found it riveting nonetheless.

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