Book reviews

Lisabeth Posthuma’s Baby & Solo (Candlewick Press, 2021)

A well-written odyssey of a male teen who befriends a teen mother who rejects abortion, Posthuma has generated a fast-paced novel that transgender and pro-life activists can enjoy without being bashed over the head with woke or leftist nonsense.

So many contemporary novelists (especially those who use their writing skills to groom children and young adults to accept abortion, gay marriage, or anal genital activity) bash their readers over the head with their distortions of sexuality.  Think, for example, of Heppermann’s Ask Me How I Got Here (Greenwillow Books, 2016) or Bonnie Pipkin’s Aftercare Instructions (Flatiron Books, 2017).

How refreshing, then, that Posthuma has written a novel which contains controversial elements that develop characters and advance the narrative instead of a novel which works merely to make her readers accept her positions on contemporary biological, political, or social issues.

And the novel has much which is controversial.

You want a gay component in your casual fiction reading, a feature which every novel published in the woke United States of 2022 apparently must have?  Posthuma’s novel has it; focus on the character Maverick and his male model perfection.

You want an abortion component?  Posthuma’s novel has it; the abortion business Planned Parenthood won’t appreciate this novel, though, since the mother in question went to her appointment for an abortion but obviously rejected that choice and delivered her daughter.  Lost profit for Planned Parenthood, but an exciting narrative for everybody else.  On this criterion alone, Posthuma’s novel far surpasses the preachiness of both Heppermann and Pipkin, who struggle to disinfect the abortion company as much as they can with their stiflingly ignorant praise of the business.

You want a little bit of religion?  Posthuma’s novel has it; orthodox readers will wonder at the hypocrisy of a purported Catholic character like the mother of the narrator, Solo, and every instance of the word “God” being lower case, as though God is merely an interjection.  Agnostic and atheist readers will appreciate the life-affirming choices that not only the character Baby makes to give birth to the unborn child, but also Solo’s choice not to commit suicide.

You want aliens from Saturn sweeping the hapless and useless Joe Biden out of the White House, thus saving the planet from World War III?  Not gonna happen.  Unlike other partisan hacks who write abortion or transgender “novels” which are more didactic than entertaining, Posthuma’s work is grounded in reality.  These are real irreligious young people who swear, think sex is meant for just casual entertainment, and slither from one minor life goal to another.

You want a transgender component, another feature which every novel published in the woke United States of 2022 apparently must have to avoid being persecuted by leftist activists?  This is perhaps the most fascinating feature of Posthuma’s work, the suggestion that the narrator or his alter ego, Crystal, may suffer from gender dysphoria.  Since I like this novel, no spoiler alert will follow.  Suffice it to say that activists on both sides of the transgender nonsense plaguing the nation will appreciate the sensitivity of Posthuma’s narrative, which, unlike other activist authors, shows readers the discomfort of those genuinely confused about their gender despite their sexuality having been recognized (not assigned) at birth.

Since Posthuma’s fiction approximates real life, its 406 pages read so mellifluously and swiftly that the entire work can be leisurely read in two days.

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