A baby is alive, a mother is dead, and another mother’s life is about to be turned upside-down. Midwives, an impressively captivating book from the beginning, weaves a tale of a family, a community, in turmoil.
If I wasn’t already afraid to give birth, I am now. If I wasn’t already outraged at the heath care system in the United States, I am now. From fear of the pain of child-bearing, to the fear of choices being taken away by a system much larger than one’s self, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian makes clear the roots of these fears. All in the midst of a book where the pages seem to turn themselves. The characters are both loveable and despicable. Not a single one is perfect, yet all are perfectly human.
I often found myself distracted by the fact that a story about a midwife and a mother, told from the perspective of a teenage girl was written by a man. For the most part, I imagine it is quite accurate, however it was often challenging for me personally to imagine a man writing about the pain of labor as if he had experienced it himself. For some, this may not be a distraction at all, but it was on my mind throughout the book.
For those New Englanders who enjoy a local setting in their reading, Midwives is an excellent choice. Set in rural northern Vermont, I was able to place myself in the story. I could easily imagine what homes my look like and how frightening the roads can be during a winter storm.
All in all, I’d highly recommend this quick-reading mystery, especially for a long, gray winter weekend.