Ware’s debut novel spans decades, taking on the abortion debate from the immediate aftermath of Roe v. Wade to the present day.
The first chapter begins in 1973. Candice can’t bear the thought of having a second child with her abusive husband. She visits Dr. Nixon, a small-town obstetrician who’s never performed an abortion, and he makes the procedure his life’s work. The book, however, doesn’t commit to one side of the debate. Dr. Nixon’s employees and family balk at his choices. Even his nephew, Robert, a medical student hoping to follow in his uncle’s footsteps, can’t understand his idol’s pro-choice position. The narrative then stretches toward the present, introducing Kyle Decker, an elusive bomber of abortion clinics; the cabal supporting him; and the FBI agents tasked with his capture. Little by little, the disparate plotlines begin to converge as Decker finds a lover and accomplice in Alice, and Robert wrestles with his uncle and his own morality. The variety of perspectives is a strength, but it comes at the expense of character development. In fact, any deeper exploration of the characters often ends up reduced to overly expository spurts: “This time, his mother’s laughing cruelty would not go unpunished…this woman, who had once tried to kill him, ‘her little abortion.’ ” Similarly inelegant prose appears throughout, blunting the complexity of the subject matter. The novel does its best to remain fresh, discarding points of view when they’ve served their purpose and maintaining a sense of emotional drama.
A complex, powerful concept strained by its own length and ambition.