cover image Blue Ticket

Blue Ticket

Sophie Mackintosh. Doubleday, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-54563-1

Mackintosh’s haunting, dystopian tale (after The Water Cure) explores the emotional fallout of forced birth control in a near-future society. Once girls begin to menstruate, they go to a lottery clinic and draw a ticket. White means they must bear children; blue means they must use birth control. Calla draws a blue ticket at age 14, and as she becomes a woman, she happily explores her untethered sexual freedom. When she reaches her 30s, she begins wanting a child. Despite her fears that the blue ticket means she is unsuited for motherhood (“Failure to nurture,” she imagines a doctor writing on her chart), Calla nevertheless manages to remove her birth control device and becomes pregnant. After her doctor says she must have an abortion, she goes on the run. Calla meets fellow rebel Marisol, and the two women become lovers while holed up in a deserted cabin, determined to give birth before they’re caught by the authorities. Mackintosh serves up vivid details of Calla’s psychological ordeal in the language of body horror (“I was the chicken I opened up one day only to discover that the stomach had been left in by mistake”), and convincingly conveys Calla’s and Marisol’s desperation. This tense, visionary drama is a notable addition to the growing body of patriarchal dystopias. (June)