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Future Home of the Living God

3.54  ·  Rating details ·  13,319 ratings  ·  2,464 reviews
Louise Erdrich, the New York Times bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of LaRose and The Round House, paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event.

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature
...more
Hardcover, 263 pages
Published November 14th 2017 by Harper
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Petergiaquinta If we can believe Erdrich, the title comes from a road sign she saw once, much like the sign that Cedar/Mary sees early in the novel...

To understand…more
If we can believe Erdrich, the title comes from a road sign she saw once, much like the sign that Cedar/Mary sees early in the novel...

To understand the sign, however, and its relevance to the novel, will take a little explanation here, and I'm not sure I'm up to it, but I'll give it a try and perhaps someone else can chime in and help me.

Christian fundamentalists and other assorted nut jobs believe that in the end times, believers will be raptured into heaven. (There is reference to this concept in the novel as well, with the bumper sticker that Cedar sees asking something along the lines of, "When you get raptured, can I have your car?") After the rapture, there will be the Tribulation, a time of terror on earth for the unbelievers left behind, and then Jesus will return to reign on earth as a living god for one thousand years, and this blessed, blessed time is called the Millennium.

Sounds crazy? Well, of course it is, but that doesn't keep a lot of wacky Christian fundamentalists from believing in it or from arguing at great length about how the Bible gives us clues as to when it will occur.

These are the same crazy fundamentalists, of course, who are screwing up our world right now, rejecting science in favor of scripture and ignoring what is happening in the world with our limited natural resources and global warming. They also voted for Donald Trump because, although he is no Christian, he and his fellow oligarchs are happy enough to prey on the limited intellects of these Christian fundamentalists and use their votes to gain political power. In the novel, these are the theocratists who seem to have overthrown the government and installed the reign of Mother and the Church of the New Constitution, or whatever Erdrich calls it.

So, without going on for too long, the great irony of the title is that this forsaken, damaged world of ours is viewed by Christian fundamentalists as the future home of their living god. And many of them believe that by depleting our natural resources and by overthrowing democratic institutions in favor of a fundamentalist theocracy, they are helping to hasten the arrival of the end times and the Millennium. That, of course, is a load of hogwash and only something that a maniac could truly believe.

But I think Erdrich is a rich enough author to provide us with a dual meaning to the title, one which is in direct opposition to the thinking of the fundamentalists. The future home of the living god is the community that we create among ourselves through love and the new family that Cedar finds to complement her earlier one; it is the womb where Cedar's child grows to maturity; it is the future that Cedar longs for at the end of her diary even though she knows she'll probably never see it, but she hopes her child will. It is that hoped for, beautiful future that one day will reestablish itself on earth, not through the magical efforts of a returning alien space god foretold in the Book of Revelation, but through the strength and good efforts of decent, loving human beings like those described in Erdrich's novel.(less)
Robert Blumenthal It can be compared to A Handmaid's Tale, but I found it distinctly different to that novel. For one, the world isn't quite as bleak as it is in A…moreIt can be compared to A Handmaid's Tale, but I found it distinctly different to that novel. For one, the world isn't quite as bleak as it is in A Handmaid's tale. Women are not forced to have sex with men against their will. And there appears to be a bit more freedom for women. It's kind of like A Handmaid's Tale lite, a bit earlier in the dystopia, so to speak. I enjoyed both books immensely.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.54  · 
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 ·  13,319 ratings  ·  2,464 reviews


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Angela M
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing

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
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Emily May
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
“Accept life. You can be absolved of anything you did, you can completely win back God’s love, by contributing to the future of humanity. Your happy sentence is only nine months.”

I agree with Tatiana and other GR reviewers. Future Home of the Living God 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 retells The Handmaid'
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Will Byrnes
In the beginning was the word
-– John 1:1

The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. The Word manifests itself in every creature.
--Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179)

A car passes me bearing the bumper sticker Come the Rapture Can I Have Your Car. Oh, good, not everybody’s getting ready to ascend. I love driving. Thinking while I shoot along. If it is true that every particle that I can see and not see, and all that is living and perhaps unloving too, is trimming its sa
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Jen
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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Diane S ☔
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Linda
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, dystopian
"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
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Elyse Walters
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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Dianne
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2017
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
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J.L.   Sutton
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Read several of Louise Erdrich's novels before this one (Love Medicine, Beet Queen, Tracks and The Painted Drum); however, while Future Home of the Living God does have the same lyrical quality of Erdrich's other works, it is very different. Earlier works, and I'm especially thinking of Tracks, contain a tangible sense of danger to her Native protagonists and their tribes, but mostly these works are in a historical context where that danger is very real. Future Home of the Living God is set in a ...more
Lori
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Speculative fiction not unlike Darwin's Radio, but with more mythology. I wished the main character had devoted less energy to miring in quibbles over her parentage.

I'm not sure why the author choose to narrate, but that's her business.
Leslie Ray
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a dystopian novel that begs comparisons to "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood in relation to the sudden ability of only a few women to become pregnant. This leads to the government taking control over these women in so far as to "abduct" them into controlled hospital environments where they are held through childbirth and in some cases, beyond. The book is written as a journal by Cedar, in first person, to her unborn child. Through this journal we are given glimpses of the world an ...more
Simon
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
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... ...more
Phrynne
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 5000-books
I liked so much about this book. I love the way the author writes. I enjoy the theory behind a good dystopian novel. I really felt for Cedar, the main character, and desperately wanted things to go well for her and her baby. My problem was that the author just did not tell me enough!

Even as the story progressed I wanted more. I never really understood who was trustworthy and who was not. And the ending answered none of my questions at all.

So it must have been a very well written book indeed, be
...more
Chris
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once more, Louise Erdrich dazzled me. The novel of a world quite literally devolving. . .evolving backwards. . .and with frightening speed was haunting and beautifully evoked. And Cedar, the young woman who may (or may not) be carrying one of the few remaining "original" human babies, is a courageous and inspiring creation. Pair this one with "The Handmaid's Tale" for a wrenching literary double-header.
Donna
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
Imagine a world somewhere in time in which evolution has reversed itself for some reason in a certain percentage of the human, animal, and creature population in certain places of the world and where the humans being born are somehow different than normal in certain ways. And imagine society trying to cope with this crisis and with government supporting certain drastic actions to enforce certain policies that go against what would be considered humane.

Now if you think I’ve been vague simply to
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Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

I suppose Future Home of the Living God is Louise Erdrich’s attempt at a dystopian story, but I’m not sure how to categorize it. Supposedly, it’s about evolution moving backward, with the protagonist pregnant with a baby that could be normal or freakish. I was immediately excited by such an electrifying premise, so I was deeply disappointed to discover that it’s false advertising.

Future Home of the Living God is a disjointed jumble--literary fiction, thriller, suspense, and just
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Bam
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jan-Maat
Seasonal retelling of the Christian nativity story with a splash of The Handmaid's Tale. It is pacey and fast moving unlike the leisurely LaRose. Although set in Minnesota, rather than North Dakota, it shares an interest in native America, but is a mainstream dystopian novel.

The government has been replaced by an alliance of the churches and the military at the same time as an uncanny natural disaster is in progress which is having dire effects on fertility and the chances of the foetus being ca
...more
Beverly
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Taryn Pierson
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I shelled out cash for this book even though I could have waited on a library copy because I saw one too many white male reviewer say, “Do we really need another Handmaid’s Tale?” and that is the kind of crap I feel compelled to answer with my wallet.

Because the answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is an emphatic YES. We do need more books like The Handmaid's Tale. Because news flash, whiny white guys, none of the stuff that Margaret Atwood was writing about and rebelling against back i
...more
Maxwell
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own-it, 2017
I really enjoyed the blend of speculative and literary fiction in this book! Also haven't read any Erdrich before, but I've been meaning too—and I will definitely pick up more from her. Definitely check this one out if the premise intrigues you.
Cheri
4.5 Stars

”You, who are on the road must have a code that you can live by.
And so become yourself because the past is just a good bye.
Teach your children well, their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams, the one they pick's the one you'll know by.
Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.”

-- “Teach Your Children” – lyrics by Graham Nash

August 7

“When I tell you that my white name is Cedar Hawk Songmak
...more
Tatiana
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, sci-fi
The idea of devolution at the center of the novel is gripping, but this is essentially The Handmaid's Tale fanfic. I expected something much less derivative from an author of such a high acclaim.
Truman32
I like to think of Louise Erdrich’s novels as the burrito bowls of literature. They are nourishing, accessible, somewhat ethnic, relatively healthy, and full of beans. Even on the rare days when they are not great they are still pretty damn delicious. Erdrich’s newest work, Future Home of the Living God, continues along this path.

This bleak and dystopian tale takes place in the future—maybe near future, maybe far off. Like a greedy dog refusing to share his squeaky toy with the neighbor’s new p
...more
Cynthia
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've never been a big fan of Erdrich though she's undeniably an excellent writer. With Future Home of the Living God I've become a fan. This is a grim book and what I've often found objectionable in Erdrich's writing is her over emphasized political views strangely even as I often agree with her stance I object to being hit on the head repeatedly with it.

Future is a haunting story of a young woman caught in a grim future where women are reduced to criminals and brood mares. The portrayal of her
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Figgy
LINK UPDATED

Actual rating 1.5


Erdrich seems to be one of those authors who has a knack for creating a really interesting premise and then ruining it by trying to be too “literary” and “artistic”. In one of her previous titles, La Rose, the lack of quotation marks did what this particular stylistic choice usually does, and made it difficult for readers to know who was speaking, and when.

In The Future Home of the Living God, the story has the potential to be incredibly intriguing, a kind of retelli
...more
Jessica Sullivan
"The first thing that happens at the end of the world is that we don't know what is happening."

This is one of the best dystopian novels I've read in a while. One day, evolution stops. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar is a few months pregnant, putting her in constant danger. Pregnant women are wanted by the government, partly because they may be the last chance at human life as we know it, and partly because no one really knows how their babies will turn out.

Cedar chronicles each day in diary entries ad
...more
Claire
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-harder-2018
I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous going into this. I’m a big Erdrich fan, but this novel has had very mixed reviews. Is it Erdrich’s best work? No, but it’s a good book, that I think deserves more credit than it’s received. It’s suffered I think from unreasonable comparisons to Atwood, and to Erdrich’s other work, none of which it is directly comparable to.

Future Home for the Living God is a near-term dystopia, and important distinction because of its influence on purpose. This is not a novel abo
...more
Eric Anderson
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Last year I read Louise Erdrich’s novel “LaRose”. It's the first book I’ve read by Erdrich. One of the things I found fascinating about it was the mixture of styles she uses and how one story line is quite fantastical/surreal where a pair of characters are continually chased by a decapitated head. So I was interested to find out how she would write about a future-set dystopian landscape in her new novel “Future Home of the Living God” where evolution reverses. People and animals start giving bir ...more
Rebecca
(2.5; DNF @ 32%) This starts out feeling like the simple story of Cedar meeting her biological Native American parents and coming to terms with her out-of-wedlock pregnancy. It takes a long time to start resembling the dystopian novel it’s supposed to be, and the signs that something is awry seem too little and come too late to produce even mild alarm. I’d try something else by Erdrich, but I didn’t find her take on this genre worthwhile.
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Karen Louise Erdrich is a American author of novels, poetry, and children's books. Her father is German American and mother is half Ojibwe and half French American. She is an enrolled member of the Anishinaabe nation (also known as Chippewa). She is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native writers of the second wave of what critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renais ...more
“The first thing that happens at the end of the world is that we don’t know what is happening.” 13 likes
“Someone has been tortured on my behalf. Someone has been tortured on your behalf. Someone in this world will always be suffering on your behalf. If it comes your time to suffer, just remember. Someone suffered for you. That is what taking on a cloak of human flesh is all about, the willingness to hurt for another human being.” 5 likes
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