Book Review: “The Long Answer” by Anna Hogeland

THE LONG ANSWER, by Anna Hogeland


The query retaining many ladies awake proper now could be whether or not our authorities will revoke or uphold our proper to manage and select our reproductive destinies. For 50 years the legislation has acknowledged the lady’s physique as one thing personal, and the lady’s life as her personal, and now the correct to decide on our personal future is at risk. What’s fallacious with this? That’s the query this debut novel poses.

It seems that the “lengthy reply” is made up of a variety of advanced realities for ladies with reproductive methods: childbirth, beginning problems, miscarriage, D&E, stillbirth, abortion, egg donation, fertility remedies, being pregnant , being pregnant problems, infertility. This e book addresses all of these experiences, actually a formidable abstract of the various methods girls have and lose infants and pregnancies, so many doable and inconceivable decisions to make, so many capitulations and coercion to endure. All of the narratives within the novel make it clear that the one factor that makes something bearable is the company every girl can declare.

The 2 girls on the coronary heart of the e book are sisters, however they aren’t shut. The novel begins with a telephone name between a girl named Anna and her older sister, Margot, who reveals that she misplaced her second little one (she has a wholesome younger son); Anna did not even know her sister was pregnant. however ana it’s newly pregnant along with her first little one, so their dialog is uneven and dry. The sisters cannot discover frequent floor till they begin discussing the intimate particulars of a 3rd girl, Elizabeth, whose in depth backstory we get, as a substitute of Anna and Margot’s.

This story-within-a-story machine happens thrice: though Anna, Margot, and their mom are ostensibly the primary characters, they again off and reveal little or no of themselves. As a substitute, we hear in nice element in regards to the lives of three different girls, Elizabeth, Corrie and Marisol, narrated by Anna. (The writer is a therapist, and studying this e book is just not like eavesdropping on another person’s session.) These nested tales are the place readers encounter girls of coloration, bisexuality, tales of abuse and neglect, and life-defining poverty. Every of those girls reveals up, spills all of it, and disappears from Anna’s life.

Anna is a cautious observer of different girls; she is aware of as a result of in yoga class she notices that Corrie’s toenails aren’t painted and that her yoga garments are low-cost. However these particulars really feel a bit low-cost on their very own. Corrie is impoverished and her story is horrible and unhappy, however her points are by no means resolved or explored as a result of she solely has a one-episode arc. Does his story of her matter or not? With girls residing beneath the specter of disappearing reproductive rights, sure, her story issues: it’s value listening to and studying. From the primary character’s perspective, Corrie’s is one in all many tales Anna makes use of to categorise and make sense of her personal life.

Or, maybe, to present that means to all our lives. Anna says the identical: โ€œI wanted tales like this now. I wanted them like I wanted water and salt, to inform me what was doable in the midst of a lifetime. I’m there along with her, keen for ladies’s tales, our tales, portraits and views. Proper now these tales are essential. I will hearken to you all, even when this explicit novel reads as eerily unsure about whose story it’s: the protagonist’s or the supporting characters’. Whether or not or not this e book brings their voices collectively harmoniously, it clarifies and reiterates that there’s little or no between girls and reproductive servitude, and our tales, these narratives lived, heard, whispered, written in novels, proceed to indicate that we’ve got lives value residing. value residing. , that ladies are viable human beings.


Brenda Shaughnessy is the most recent writer of “The Octopus Museum.” She has two new books, โ€œLiquid Flesh: New and Chosen Poemsโ€ and โ€œTanyaโ€, forthcoming.


THE LONG ANSWER, by Anna Hogeland | 304 pages | Riverhead Books | $26

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