Tuesday, February 25, 2014

“Firstborn” by Lorie Ann Grover

Engrossing and fast-paced, this book will be sure to hold your attention.  Whether it is in the future or in another dimension, the reader is thrust into an unusual world of oppression.  Firstborn females are either left for dead or forced to live life as males (“declared” as the book calls it).  Tiadone is one of those declared males.  She lives her whole life with an amulet on her hip.  It holds her father’s hair and a desert cat’s heart in it.  This—she is told—gives her masculine power to overcome her femininity.  In this strange world, people get birds that live with them for part of their lives.  The birds grow up with their humans and serve them.  As this animal-human friendship grows, it is severed once the oppressive government regime says so.  Tiadone’s bird Mirko is unique in that it sings and communicates with Tiadone through vision.  Ratho, Tidaon’s best friend and fellow worker, has a bird named Thae.  As both characters age, they feel an attraction that they are not allowed to have.  Subtle romance is worked into the book in a way that is not graphic.  As Tiadone and Ratho serve their government, religious tension ensues.  Tiadone worships the Creator Spirit (which is forbidden by state law), while Ratho worships the Four-Winged-Condor (which is promoted by state law).  Tiadone is forced to question every aspect of her life as she lives a lie.  The reader will sympathize with Tiadone when she really believes her amulet will make her male.  While I am not sure if the author intentionally was making comparisons, I will say that Tiadone’s experiences reminded me of the Holocaust.  Not in the sense of genocide but rather in the great religious oppression, the shaving of heads, and the abuse.  Also, the worship of the Four-Winged-Condor was reminiscent of Christianity. [Tiadone is forced to participate in a ceremony where a priest puts a wafer on her tongue and gives her wine to drink.  Also, at one part in the book, the government’s religious institution is accused of worshipping a created being.]  I will not spoil the ending of this book, but I will say there will be despair and victory at the same time.  Tiadone will question her faith and if there is even a God at all.  She will learn what it means to let go of friends and family.  Tiadone will lose some of her dreams but come out more alive than ever.  This book will make you think what your true priorities are and what lives you may be living with.  It will make women embrace their identity as female and learn what true love is. 

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