By Sophie Mackintosh; published in 2020
Having a child is both the most rational and irrational decision possible, in this world.” Calla lives in a world where girls are told through a lottery whether or not they will have children. Her ticket is blue, so she is fitted with an IUD and sent on her way. Is freedom about not living for another human being, or is freedom the choice to do so? Calla decides she wants a baby, although she isn’t explicit in her reasons. It seems she is mostly acting on instinct, and to reject the assignment given to her. She obsesses over why she received a blue ticket, what she might have done to label her “unmaternal.” Her pregnancy sends her on the run from emissaries, who seek out cheaters for unknown punishment; she travels across her country and into herself. I liked the premise of this novel, and Mackintosh paints an intriguing picture of maternal choice. However this style of ethereal writing (similar to Anne Enright) does not generally appeal to me. I also thought there were many unanswered questions, such as how/why the lottery began and other details about the world in which Calla lives (Where does she live? How far is the border she is chasing? Why are women cut off from their families?) While I am desperate to know if Calla truly wanted to be a mother, or merely wanted the choice, or was acting on a temporary biological urge — I think the point of a novel like this is that she owes her reasoning to nobody. Three stars.