Here lies A novel

Olivia Clare, 1982-

Book - 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 honor 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 anew the meaning of family and strength. With poignance, poeticism,... and deep insight, in Here Lies Olivia Clare Friedman gives us a stunning portrait of motherhood, friendship, and humanity in an alternate American South torn asunder by global warming. This is a stunning first novel from a unique and inventive writer"--

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New York : Grove Press 2022.
Main Author
Olivia Clare, 1982- (author)
First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition. First edition
Physical Description
196 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

Friedman follows up her lauded short story collection, Disasters in the First World (2017), with a debut novel set in Louisiana in the near future, when burials have been outlawed, and cremated remains have become the property of the state. Devastated by the death of her mother Naomi, who lost her battle with cancer, Alma is also guilt-ridden for surrendering Naomi's body rather than burying her as Naomi wished. Alma is determined to cut through endless amounts of red tape to get her mother's ashes back from the government. While researching how she can do this in the library, she meets and ultimately befriends enigmatic and beautiful Bordelon, a young woman living out of her car in the library's parking lot. Alma invites Bordelon to stay with her during a storm, an arrangement that gets extended indefinitely, providing solitary Alma with a friend and a companion in her quest to recover her mother's ashes. A beautifully told tale of grief and loss made bearable by the unexpected creation of a found family.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In Friedman's somber debut novel (after the collection Disasters in the First World), burials are banned, graveyards are shut down, and the dead are cremated. The year is 2042 and in Louisiana, 22-year-old Alma struggles with the death of her mother, Naomi, from ovarian cancer. Her deep emotional connection with Naomi hasn't diminished, and much of her anguish has to do with being unable to fulfill her mother's wishes for a proper burial. Alma is a frequent library patron, and there she encounters Bordelon, a fiercely independent 19-year-old whose mother vanished. They bond, drinking beer and distracting one another from their losses and regrets while venturing into forbidden graveyards and battling bureaucracy in the hopes that Alma may still honor her mother's dying wish. As their quest to claim Naomi's ashes from the state unfolds, they are helped by a librarian who knew Naomi and a notary. Friedman conjures surprising and deep human bonds among the four strong women as they unite under their shared mission. The author doesn't offer much in the way of detail of her dystopian future, a gamble that pays off by leaving room to show how her characters cling to an old-time sense of "kicking and living," as Alma puts it, in the face of catastrophic changes. The result is illuminating and startling. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (Mar.)

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

A first novel about the travails of a young Louisiana woman mourning her mother's death in the 2040s, when human burial has become illegal. The near future Friedman creates is less extreme than ones found in other recent cautionary dystopias. Instead, what may scare readers is how normal narrator Alma's world seems in light of the U.S.'s current problems. In fact, 22-year-old Alma's lifestyle and entertainment references--the same fast food, the same golden oldies considered oldies today--make the fabric of daily life in the present and future seem pretty much the same. One change mentioned more than once is that Louisiana's football teams have stopped playing. And of course there are the continuing ravages of climate change--trees lost to storms, hoarding due to empty store shelves. Parts of Louisiana are uninhabitable. Alma's major concern, however, is that the increasingly authoritarian government--its political affiliation left ambiguous--has taken control of graveyard land; laws now require the dead to be cremated, their ashes stored by the state, with few exceptions. Alma takes up the cause of dead people's rights and freedom of burial choice. Her mother, who died a year earlier, was cremated although she'd wanted a burial. After Alma's application for a dispensation to keep the urn of her mother's ashes is turned down, she becomes involved with a secret idealistic group of Catholic burial rights activists. She also takes in homeless, pregnant 19-year-old Bordelon, who is mourning the death of the grandmother who raised her. Both Bordelon and Alma had lousy boyfriends and fathers who abandoned them; their activist friend Josephine's husband abused her. More problematic than the heavy-handed victimhood is the narrowness of Alma's vision, which seems unconcerned with major issues like racism or deaths caused by natural disasters and starvation. But the temptation to consider this a satirical fable is undercut by the earnest tone. Despite some lovely prose, Friedman's dystopia-lite comes across as less shocking than shallow. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.