It was strange reading this book so soon after Motherland by Sheila Heti. This feels like a different more fictionalised approach to the same question of what it means to be a mother, of who has the right to be one, of how it shapes a woman’s life and the importance of individual rather than state-enforced choice.
As soon as she gets her first period, Calla is taken to the lottery house where she will receive her ticket: white for a life as a mother; blue for childlessness. The ticket is then placed inside a locket worn around her neck. If you get a blue ticket you are sent out alone, with the minimum of provisions, to find your way to a town or city where, if you make it, you will be assigned a job.
Calla gets a blue ticket.
It would be hard for me to say more without spoiling the plot. I was completely gripped by the novel, reading it in one sitting over a few hours. For those who enjoyed her previous novel, The Water Cure, you won’t be disappointed. This is familiar territory from an alternate angle. Individual freedom and who polices it are at the heart of Blue Ticket as much as The Water Cure. Young people are abandoned to adulthood, cast out from their homes to find their own way; given a coming of age ritual if you will. But the girls are restricted in their choices. Their reproductive abilities decided by the state, managed and policed heavily by well-meaning doctors and emissaries. Unsurprisingly, the echo of Atwood’s speculative fiction is a gentle whisper across the book as we explore Calla’s attempt to fight back, to revolt and choose a future for yourself.
A fast and gripping read, Blue Ticket is sure to be as successful as her debut.
I’ll be reading Manual For A Decent Life by Kavita A. Jinal next.