Here Lies – Olivia Clare Friedman

Published By: Grove Press
Pages: 208
Released On: 22/03/2022

Louisiana, 2042. Spurred by the effects of climate change, states have closed graveyards and banned burials, making cremation mandatory and the ashes of loved ones state-owned unless otherwise claimed. In the small town of St. Genevieve, Alma lives alone and struggles to grieve in the wake of her young mother Naomi’s death, during which Alma failed to honour Naomi’s final wishes. Now, Alma decides to fight to reclaim Naomi’s ashes, a journey of unburial that will bring into her life a mysterious and fiercely loyal stranger, Bordelon, who appears in St. Genevieve after a storm, as well as a group of strong, rebellious local women who, together, teach Alma a new meaning of family and strength.

*****

Thanks to Grove Press for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

On the surface this is a fantasy, almost a sci-fi, a world we recognise but don’t live in. But at its heart is a truth about a future that looks closer and closer. What would happen when land becomes so scarce and so precious that only the living have rights to it? Whilst it is set in the near future, there are aspects that are easily identifiable as very now.

As a whole, I dislike fiction about global warming or about us destroying the planet as I come to stories for escapism, not to be preached at. But this comes to it from a different angle, so subtle that you don’t even know it’s there, and you just concentrate on the friendship at its heart.

It’s a short book, which I feel is enough. It’s a brutal, emotional punch and I think 200 pages is perfect to find the right tone. Any less and you wouldn’t make that emotional connection, but any more and I think it would become uncomfortable. A book to really get your teeth stuck into, and a perfect story to discuss with others.

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