An idealistic young heroine makes a decision that will alter her life, and possibly the world, in Rogers’ (The Voyage Home, 2004, etc.) eighth novel.
It’s not easy being a teenager in Lamb’s futuristic world. Like many young people, 16-year-old Jessie is struggling to find her own identity. She’s dealing with all of the conflicts inherent in a teen’s life—love, friendship, relationships, parental control—but she’s also surrounded by an ominous force that threatens the very future of humankind: a genetically engineered virus, known as Maternal Death Syndrome, which destroys pregnant women and their unborn children. Jessie’s father, a scientist, is part of a team that is working to stop it. Jessie, who narrates the story, begins to question all the attitudes and values she and her friends have learned as children. In an effort to find herself, Jessie joins an activist group and becomes marginally involved in several causes. As she ponders her role in life, the world around Jessie is disintegrating into chaotic demonstrations over women’s equality, genetic engineering, moral injustice and just about every other important social issue known to man. Each is treated superficially by both Jessie and the author, and ultimately these threads detract from what could have been a provocative story. As if Jessie doesn’t have enough on her plate already, she also must deal with her beloved aunt’s illness, a rocky event in her parents’ marriage, a friend’s assault, the betrayal of an older adult, and a sexual encounter. Amid the turmoil, Jessie resolves to do something to make her life meaningful, a move that her father and those around her try to prevent. With an emotional disconnect that is inconsistent with true teen behavior, Jessie tries to convince her parents, her friends and herself that her chosen mission is the right path for her—and that one person can, indeed, make a difference.
A disturbing story that, in the end, somehow seems a bit shallow.