Book review: “The Long Answer” by Anna Hoagland

lengthy reply, by Anna Hoagland


The query that retains many ladies awake at evening proper now’s 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 girl’s physique as personal, a girl’s life is our life, and now the best 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 advanced details for girls with reproductive programs: childbirth, childbirth issues, miscarriages, D&Es, stillbirths, miscarriages, egg donation, fertility remedies, being pregnant, being pregnant issues and infertility. This guide addresses all of these experiences and is really a wide ranging account of the numerous methods girls carry, carry and lose their infants, the numerous potential and unattainable 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 potential is the company that every lady can declare.

The 2 girls on the coronary heart of the guide are sisters, however they don’t seem to be shut. The novel begins with a cellphone name between a girl 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 minimize brief and succinct. The 2 sisters are unable to seek out widespread floor till they start discussing the intimate particulars of a 3rd lady, Elizabeth, whose in depth again story we get – moderately than that of Anna and Margot.

This story-within-a-story system happens 3 times: Though Anna, Margot, and their mom are ostensibly the principle characters, they step again and reveal little or no about themselves. As an alternative, we hear in nice element in regards to the lives of three different girls—Elizabeth, Corrie, and Marisol—as instructed by Anna. (The writer is a wizard, studying this guide isn’t any completely different than tapping into another person’s session.) These intertwined tales are the place readers discover girls of shade, bisexuality, histories of abuse and neglect, and life-defining poverty. Every of those girls seems, every thing 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 somewhat 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 vital or not? With girls residing underneath the specter of reproductive rights’ demise — sure, her story is vital: it is price listening and studying. From the principle character’s perspective, Cory is likely one of the many tales Anna makes use of to kind and provides that 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 potential in the middle of life.” I am proper there together with her, gluttonous for girls’s narratives, our histories, our photographs, and our views. Now these tales are essential. I will hearken to all of them, even when this explicit novel appears disturbingly unsure about whose story it’s – that of the protagonist or the supporting characters. Whether or not or not this guide 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 point out that we dwell lives price residing, that ladies are human beings. viable.


Brenda Shaughnessy is the writer of the current guide 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