Bridge Daughter

Jim Nelson. CreateSpace, $9.99 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-1-5330-0659-2
Nelson (Edward Teller Dreams of Barbecuing People) smoothly realizes a provocative alternate present seen through the eyes of naive adolescent Hanna Driscoll. Her eagerly awaited 13th birthday turns horrifying when Hanna learns she is a bridge daughter: she was born pregnant with her parents’ “real” child and will give birth to her this year, dying when the umbilicus is severed. Hanna has not lived the traditional existence of other bridge daughters in her California suburb, who are forced to serve as household drudges and deprived of education and affection, and the discovery shocks her. After she tries to run away, her mother starts treating her more harshly. Hanna has a quick, educated mind and a sense of herself as a worthy individual, and she becomes determined to fight her biology, but time is running out as the child grows within her. The concept of bridge daughters strains logic at first, but Nelson makes it plausible by having Hanna (and readers) learn the details slowly and weaving in a variant Christianity in which the stories of biblical bridge daughters (including Mary) shape cultural norms. Hanna is an engaging protagonist, and her thought-provoking story blends action, introspection, and social commentary in a stark but indirect critique of efforts to control female bodies and restrict reproductive rights. (BookLife)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
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