Book review: “The Long Answer” by Anna Hoagland

lengthy reply, by Anna Hoagland


The query that retains many ladies awake at night time now could be whether or not our authorities will abolish or help our proper to regulate and select our reproductive destinies. For 50 years, the regulation has acknowledged a lady’s physique as non-public, a lady’s life is our life, and now the fitting to decide on our personal future is in jeopardy. What’s the drawback in that? That is the query that this primary novel asks.

It seems that the “lengthy reply” consists of a variety of complicated information for ladies with reproductive techniques: childbirth, childbirth issues, miscarriages, D&Es, stillbirths, miscarriages, egg donation, fertility therapies, being pregnant, being pregnant issues and infertility. This e book addresses all of these experiences and is really a panoramic account of the numerous methods girls carry, carry and lose their infants, the numerous doable and not possible decisions to make, and the numerous surrenders and compulsions to endure. All accounts within the novel make it clear that the one factor that makes any of them doable is the company that every girl can declare.

The 2 girls on the coronary heart of the e book are sisters, however they aren’t shut. The novel begins with a cellphone name between a lady named Anna and her older sister, Margot, who reveals that she has miscarried her second youngster (she has a wholesome younger youngster); Anna didn’t know that her sister was pregnant. however me he’s Newly pregnant together with her first youngster, so their dialog is reduce quick and succinct. The 2 sisters are unable to seek out frequent floor till they start discussing the intimate particulars of a 3rd girl, Elizabeth, whose in depth again story we get – reasonably than that of Anna and Margot.

This story-within-a-story gadget happens thrice: Though Anna, Margot, and their mom are ostensibly the primary characters, they step again and reveal little or no about themselves. As an alternative, we hear in nice element concerning the lives of three different girls—Elizabeth, Corrie, and Marisol—as instructed by Anna. (The writer is a wizard, studying this e book isn’t any totally different than tapping into another person’s session.) These intertwined tales are the place readers discover girls of colour, bisexuality, histories of abuse and neglect, and life-defining poverty. Every of those girls seems, every part leaks and disappears from Anna’s life.

Anna retains a detailed eye on the opposite girls – we all know this as a result of in her yoga class she observed that Cory’s toenails have been unpainted and her yoga garments have been low cost. However these particulars appear slightly low cost. Cory is poor and her story is surprising and unhappy, however her issues are by no means solved or explored as a result of she solely will get one episode. Is her story essential or not? With girls dwelling beneath the specter of reproductive rights’ demise — sure, her story is essential: it is value listening and studying. From the primary character’s perspective, Cory is without doubt one of the many tales Anna makes use of to kind and provides which means to her life.

Or possibly to grasp all of our lives. Anna typically says: “I wanted tales like this now. I wanted them as if I wanted water and salt, to inform me what was doable in the middle of life.” I am proper there together with her, gluttonous for ladies’s narratives, our histories, our pictures, and our views. Now these tales are essential. I will take heed to all of them, even when this specific novel appears disturbingly unsure about whose story it’s – that of the protagonist or the supporting characters. Whether or not or not this e book harmoniously brings their voices collectively, it makes clear and reiterates that the valuable little conditions between girls and reproductive slavery, and our tales—these vivid accounts we have heard, whispered, and written into novels—proceed to indicate that we dwell lives value dwelling, that girls are human beings. viable.


Brenda Shaughnessy is the writer of the latest e book The Octopus Museum. She has two new books, “Liquid Flesh: New and Chosen Poems” and “Tania”, about to be launched.


lengthy reply, by Anna Hoagland | 304 p. | Riverhead Books | $26