Book Review

Graceful Burdens

Graceful BurdensGraceful Burdens
Author: Roxane Gay
Series: Out of Line Collection #2
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories
First Published: September 1, 2020
Genres: Dystopia, Feminist Fiction
Pages: 21
Format: eBook
Source: Prime Reading


From New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay comes an unforgettable tale of nightmarish bureaucracy in which genetic profiling has redefined the “unfit mother.”

A trip to the library prompts one woman to question her fate in this galvanizing short story. For a woman like Hadley, deemed not acceptable to procreate, there’s only one recourse. Unlicensed for motherhood, she can alleviate her grief and frustration at a “baby library,” where a curiously endless supply of infants is available for a two-week loan. But the borrowed life that serves as a temporary balm leads to a journey of self-discovery that will forever change the direction of Hadley’s future.

Also in this series: The Contractors, This Telling
Also by this author: Kink: Stories

My Thoughts

One of the biggest decisions a woman can ever make in her life is the choice over whether or not they want to bear children. Whether or not a woman decides to have a child has social consequences: her marriage partner(s), her career and education options, what social circles she will likely to gravitate to, how other people will view her; society places a lot of pressure on women to make this choice. Though it is a personal choice, society will always weigh in on this choice.

“Don’t ever speak such heresy again. You are lucky enough to have a pristine genetic profile. You have a duty, and you will fulfill it.”

Graceful Burdens takes this choice away from women and dares to ask the reader who is truly free in a world where eugenics dictates who can and cannot procreate. This short packs a punch and I was utterly engaged from the first page. There is so much untapped potential and the story could have easily been a full-length novel. Hadley and Seraphina are both unhappy characters that present unique viewpoints. The concept of a baby library to soothe the ache of unlicensed women is an interesting concept that I feel could easily be expanded upon. Both the characters and the plot feel cut short, but I enjoyed the story regardless, it’s a strong story that fans of feminist science fiction will easily enjoy.

About Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects.

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