Some of the promotional material for The Hush by Sara Foster describe it as a ‘near-future thriller’ which I must say, is incredibly apt.
And… wow, just wow. Foster has managed to reflect many of the issues of increasing concern in society today, in a way that seems both fantastically impossible and completely comprehensible at the same time.
It’s an extremely clever book, with an inspired premise, though we’re seeing more and more books with George Orwellian-type themes, such as Kate Mildenhall’s The Mother Fault. Foster’s confronting narrative is further strengthened by fabulous characters who felt very real, complex and engaging.The Hush
by Sara Foster
Published by HarperCollins
Genres: General Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
Six months ago, in an English hospital, a healthy baby wouldn’t take a breath at birth. Since then there have been more tragedies, and now the country is in turmoil. The government is clamping down on people’s freedoms. The prime minister has passed new laws granting authorities sweeping powers to monitor all citizens. And young pregnant women have started going missing.
As a midwife, Emma is determined to be there for those who need her. But when her seventeen-year-old daughter Lainey finds herself in trouble, this dangerous new world becomes very real, and both women face impossible choices.
The best and worst thing about this book is how feasible it all seems. Foster writes about the government monitoring our every move via wristwatches and making decisions about women’s bodies without consulting women themselves. Not to mention the fact that the dictatorship-like rules seem to keep changing so suspicion grows.
At the moment in Australia we have those who disagree with the use of compulsory check-in apps and vaccination statuses to minimise the spread and impact of Covid. And of course decisions are being made about women’s bodies in the US that many are questioning. We like to think governments have our best interest at heart and trying to balance personal freedom while protecting its people and its future. But, of course it isn’t always the case.
Emma and her daughter Lainey are delightful leads. They’re struggling to communicate as the book opens. Emma – a midwife – is devastated by the rise of Intrapartum X babies (doll babies) that die the moment they give birth. No one seems to know why and there seems no commonality among those who survive.
Foster easily conveys the differing views in society through the attitude of Emma and Lainey’s friends, colleagues and community leaders. Again something we see mirrored even today – the wedge being driven between those with different viewpoints. Black vs white with very little grey. We’ve long been challenged to accept those with differing values, but what do we do if we’re sure they’re putting lives at risk or blind to risks they themselves will face?
It’s hard to talk much about this book without offering up the fact that Lainey becomes pregnant. She’s faced with uncertainty about her mother’s reaction and fear for what will come next given other young women have gone missing the moment they’ve bought a pregnancy test.
I very much enjoyed almost everything about this book; the characters, including those who play minor roles, as well as the inspired and confronting plot. Foster’s writing is exquisite. There’s also some detail about genetics and the concept of eugenics, and Foster dips into the impacts of climate change as well as government corruption and networks of rebellion. All topical and pressing issues.
The only thing I found slightly (ummm… maybe discombobulating) was how quickly the book drew to a close. I’d decided my iPad must not have downloaded it all when I saw how few pages were left and how much still needed to happen, but it wasn’t the case. Of course many will appreciate that Foster respects readers enough to know we’ll extrapolate from where she takes us to what comes next.
This is the fourth book I’ve read by Foster and they’ve all been quite different. She’s certainly a talented writer and this is easily one of my favourite books (and possibly the most thought-provoking) of the year.
The Hush by Sara Foster will be published in Australia by Harper Collins and available from 27 October 2021.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.