“Future Home of the Living God” is told in an epistolary style set in a future U.S. in which nature is turning on itself and going through some sort of evolution. Animals are changing into new species and for some reason most women are not able to get pregnant, carry a pregnancy to term, or deliver a baby that can live. There’s a small group of women who are able to achieve a viable pregnancy and this becomes the main conflict for our protagonist, Cedar. Intermixed with this ongoing evolution (de-evolution?), Cedar is discovering her roots. She grew up in an adopted household in Minneapolis with White parents, but she is of Ojibwe heritage. Because she’s pregnant, she wants to meet her biological parents to find out if there’s any genetic issues she should be aware of.
The plot unfolds as diary entries Cedar writes based on her experiences with the issues I’ve mentioned above. The diary is something she compiling to give to her baby. One the one hand, it made the book stand out telling us the story from a limited, disjointed chronology. On the other hand, it made me frustrated and didn’t pay out the way I was expecting. By keeping the diary there’s a very personal feel to the book and it makes an empathetic read. You know all about Cedar and what she’s thinking or feeling. It makes us feel like we are the baby she was writing to. On the other hand, because it’s such a limited perspective, there’s things happening in Cedar’s world that didn’t make sense to me, but because they did for her, she doesn’t take the time to explain them. It’s like watching a movie of Cedar’s life, while she’s standing right in front of you. You get to see some of the world, but the main focus is really just on Cedar herself.
One of the themes I appreciated about this book is that we get to experience Cedar’s Ojibwe family as people. I’ve said it before but I don’t think there’s a good representation of Native Americans in literature. Too often they’re portrayed as victims and something that White liberals should pity and cry over. In “Future Home” there’s no victimization. Cedar and her family use their situation and do what they can in their chaotic world, and do it very well.
I enjoyed this book very much, it just didn’t live up to what I was expecting from the beginning. It’s definitely a very unique book and great for book clubs as it spawns a lot of discussion.