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A Novel

by Alexis Schaitkin

Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin X
Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin
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Self and Motherhood
There has been a recent uptick of novels regarding motherhood and women's roles in society which is understandable given the rise in extreme conservatism in America in the last twenty years. Alexis Schaitkin brings forward via speculative fiction the fears that I believe many women currently have regarding their ability to live and work as equals to men in our society without limits established by gender.

When I read the First Look available through #BookishFirst I was intrigued by the book's premise and its setting.

The storyline was strong and easy to follow, but I did find my interest lagging occasionally during journey of the central character, Vera, outside the colony. The characters were believable, and I found the use of German street names interesting. I loved the location. We vacationed in the Pacific Northwest last summer and I felt that I knew exactly where this town was located and could picture it perfectly somewhere far back in the North Cascades. The descriptions of the physical surroundings transported me to the village with its soft mist urging everyone to get home by lightly swirling uphill and downhill through the streets in early evening. The physical environment of the book was exactly as it should be.

When I started the book, I was focused on the dystopian setting and what happened to the women who suddenly disappeared. By the end of the book, I realized that I was more concerned about the concept of motherhood and what our current society expects of women.

This would definitely be a great novel for book club discussion. There are so many opportunities for discussion: motherhood, women's roles in society, marriage vs singleness, childrearing, insular societies, friendship, merits of education, etc. I will definitely be presenting it to my book club for consideration.

Unique and thought-provoking
I haven't read much speculative fiction, so this was fun to explore. It was really unique and had a lot to think about. This would be great for book clubs to explore some of the themes it brought up. Thanks to @netgalley and @celadonbooks for the early copy.

Synopsis: Vera grows up in a small village in the mountains, where there are no strangers, it is believed to be the most beautiful place around, and the villagers face a strange affliction--on occasion, some mothers will simply vanish into thin air. When Vera becomes a mother herself, she tries to figure out how to stay, looking for signs that she might be the next to "go".

The writing was absolutely beautiful, and I was completely captivated by the story. It brought up key themes about identity and motherhood, and how women balance the expectations they face (or place on themselves) with maintaining their own identity but also wanting to be everything for their child.

The whole book evokes this really sad feeling, even parts that aren't necessarily sad. It's like the characters are constantly on edge for something to go wrong.

I did think some parts dragged a bit, and perhaps if I was a mother myself, I would have connected to it more. Also, what the heck was going on with the women licking men's blood during sex? Forget the disappearing women, that part was the weirdest!

I definitely enjoyed this, and appreciate how unique and thought provoking it was!
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