A chore and a bore; a 412-page psychiatric study of a teen girl suffering from feminist monomania.
This novel with an unconvincing plot is more a psychiatric case study of a teen girl suffering from an outdated anti-life version of feminist ideology who discovers her innate heterosexual normativity. Overall, the plot is not only unconvincing, but also difficult to plow through. It didn’t help that President Trump had some magnificent rallies every day to distract me from reading this tedious narrative.
In essence, Athena, the first-person narrator who is anti-life, wants to help her pro-life sister Helen overcome rumors circulating in their high school that Helen had an abortion, which would ban her from being part of the Homecoming.
The essence of this plot was identified on page 95. By page 369, the reader understands that all it took to overcome a teacher’s ban preventing Helen from being in the Homecoming was a call from her father to the principal. Towards the end of the novel (page 402), Sr. Catherine, dean of discipline at the high school, vows not to expel another student who had aborted, so there was no issue worth writing about anyway.
Why, then, read 307 pages of a severely introspective unconvincing plot?
Furthermore, Athena’s preaching about abortion is equally unnecessary. Athena mentions “abortion rights” (22), a standard anti-life phrase which distorts the first civil right, the right to life. Being a typical anti-life feminist, Athena felt the need to talk about a pro-life crisis pregnancy center as a “fake abortion clinic” (61). Worst of all is Athena’s claim that “There wasn’t anything wrong with having an abortion” (95)—a statement willfully ignoring post-abortion syndrome which, even in the novel’s setting of 1992, was obvious for mothers who aborted instead of chose one of several life-affirming options.
Athena may have committed an egregious Freudian slip when she admitted that the novel’s entire abortion language is unnecessary to the feeble plot. When she and her friend enter the crisis pregnancy center, Athena lets slip that “none of this was really related to Helen, other than the associated topic of abortion” (135).
Wha-what? This novel, then, is not about “abortion stigma” () or feminist empowerment of women (which is a pro-life concept). Why, then, talk about abortion at all? Just relate the story of a teenage girl who overcame certain rumors which could have prevented her from being part of Homecoming.
Including such propaganda is typical of contemporary women authors who are themselves anti-life. (The author declares that she is anti-life/pro-abortion on page .) No matter how anti-life writers try to justify abortion or, as in Keenan’s verbose effort, try to mitigate against “abortion stigma”, contemporary readers know that the task is impossible since abortion (which harms mothers, kills unborn babies, and alienates fathers) is an unnatural attempt to distort heterosexual normativity.
And, Athena, the main character, proves just how forceful her innate femininity is. She is subject to typical teen girl infatuations and explosive hormones leading to heterosexual romance. Like other teen girls, she (gasp!) likes boys, particularly some poor schmuck named Kyle.
“I seemed to forget everything about being a feminist when I was around him” (77), Athena claims. “I felt like a bad feminist for caring that people saw I was on a date with a hot guy” ) is another statement of her infatuation with Kyle. All of chapter 26 ([262ff]) is an exercise in teen girl angst; she overhears another girl talk with Kyle about his romance with Athena.
Note to the men. Such ga-ga over a teen boy is just too much for male readers. However, guys, being an English professor who focuses on fiction dealing with the life issues of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia, I read it for you. Now, go back to football practice.
Of course, the real purpose of Keenan’s novel is political. Athena goes into an anti-Republican rant when she claims that “Republicans were priming the nation for a fascist dictatorship” (53). What a classic case of projection! We in 2020 see politicians in the useless Democratic Party release from jail Antifa domestic terrorists who riot in American cities. The author herself explains her pro-abortion political propaganda when she states, “I wanted a setting parallel to today’s politics—something close, but not identical, to today” ().
Typical that a pro-abortion writer must ignore contemporary pro-life achievements and turn to 1992 (28 years ago!) to force abortion into a novel merely concerned with a vapid Homecoming.
Thankfully, I can erase the nonsense of this novel with my next novel to review, a masterpiece by Evelyn Waugh.