Ada is growing up in a time (1890s) when being barren is the worst possible thing. Girls are married off very young and when they fail to conceive, the town assumes witchcraft is likely to blame. To avoid hanging, Ada escapes town when she fails to produce a child and eventually joins the Hole in the Wall Gang, a group of outcast and barren women. It’s cowboy life, female style. It takes time to prove herself, but Ada eventually solidifies her position in the group as a sort of doctor. Led by the Kid, the Hole in the Wall Gang is a scrappy bunch that has plans to position themselves to call the shots. It’s a dangerous mission, but this gun-slinging group is ready to stop living as freaks and need a home.
With the whole attitude on barrenness governing pretty much everything, this felt like an alternate or dystopian version of the Wild West. It’s like a period piece but with one thought from that time period very exaggerated. In fact, I the whole point is that this is an alternate America (similar to how America evolved into the one we know in The Handmaid’s Tale), but I wish that was hammered home a bit more. For example, only when looking back do I realize there was no centralized government mentioned – all tiny towns govern themselves – and it’s like areas outside the West (the Northeast, the coast) don’t exist. At times it read like America from an alternate perspective, not an alternate America. But it’s this unique America that makes this book so interesting.
3 out of 5 stars. I definitely enjoyed it but I wasn’t as invested in the characters as I should have been. I can’t explain why this fell just a little flat for me since it has all the elements I look for and most people have really been loving it.
Pair with: Herbal tea in a campfire mug