The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers
Published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins
Release date: May 15, 2012
Nobody is sure exactly how it happened, but terrorism is assumed, even though no group has taken responsibility. No matter how it happened, though, Maternal Death Syndrome (MDS) is a problem. There has always been a risk associated with pregnancy, but now it isn’t a risk of fatality but certainty of fatality. The lack of viable pregnancies means that the entire human population will rapidly age and eventually die out unless something a cure can be found. This is not the easiest world in which to be a teenager, as Jessie Lamb can attest. When it seems that a solution may have been found, Jessie must decide who she wants to be, and what she wants to contribute to society and how.
The Testament of Jessie Lamb alternates between Jessie’s journal of her abduction, set in the present, and her account of the preceding months and the gradual breakdown of society after the reality of MDS sets in. I found Rogers’s style somewhat off-putting originally, although I can’t put my finger on exactly what the problem was. I hated the font used for Jessie’s journal, which opens the book, but it is used infrequently enough that it ended up not actually being a problem. As I got further into the story, I either grew acclimated to Rogers’s style or was intrigued enough by the world she was creating that I no longer noticed any issues. The Testament of Jessie Lamb is a fascinating book to read at this political moment, because it raises questions of fertility, reproduction, and women’s control over their bodies that are constantly in the news this year. The potential biological terrorism and variety of political responses to the crisis are also familiar, while still being given a new spin.
Although I can’t say that I adored The Testament of Jessie Lamb, I did end up enjoying it and certainly found it thought provoking. I predict that it will be a great book to discuss with a book club.
Source: Publisher, for BOOK CLUB.
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