Red Clocks is not a book for the faint hearted. It is a book worth reading. Set in an easy-to-believe alternative and highly conservative America, Red Clocks explores the complex issues of motherhood as personal and political.
Seen from the perspective of four women, all coping with different facets of women’s maternal lives, Red Clock delves into this deeply personal aspect of womanhood. Zumas doesn’t balk from the gritty, visceral details of both the emotional and physical experience of maternity. Her explicit, and at time confronting, portrayal the processes of pregnancy and the emotional toll of motherhood as a social construct gives voice to the experiences of women from many angles.
Zumas challenges motherhood as a natural or desirable outcome for women, while empathetically representing women who for a multitude of reasons are unable to become biological mothers themselves.
Overlaid with these deeply personal narratives of mothering, is the socio-political aspect of women’s bodies and futures as being determined by, and at the whim of, social policy. She raises difficult questions about autonomy, freedom and ideology that run frighteningly close to current political contexts.
This is a hard read, but Zumas give us rounded, sympathetic characters that makes us evaluate where we stand on maternity as a personal experience and as a social and political issue.