Title: Blue Ticket
Writer: Sophie Mackintosh
Publishing House: Hamish Hamilton
Date of Publication: August 27th 2020
Rating: 5 stars
”We lined up, waiting to pull our tickets from the machine, the way you would take your number at the butcher’s counter. The music popular that year played from speakers on the ceiling. Just gravity enough. Not necessarily such an important thing, after all.”
Calla is waiting for a ticket. Blue ticket, white ticket. A lottery for a life without children. A lottery for a life as a mother and a wife. What passes as a game of chance between a ”care-free” way of living and a full-blown responsibility journey into motherhood is, in reality, a decision by the invisible forces that control the lives in this peculiar dystopian society. And Calla gets her blue ticket and is free to live her life, so to speak. She can do everything. Except becoming a mother. But it is never easy to accept that others have already decided what is ”good for you” and her rebellion to earn the right to choose begins.
”I turned my face up to the night.”
In her new novel following the success of The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh sets her story within a dystopian community, but in a way that is subtle and extremely mysterious. Our focus isn’t on the structure of this society, therefore do not expect a full-scale Dystopian universe and any comparisons (that are bound to exist) to Atwood are absurd. This choice results in a far better story than all the cliches we have witnessed lately. The heart of this journey lies in the strange absence of the authorities that hunt down the ones who violate the decision of the State. The people do this job instead, and the blindfolded search of Calla towards a possible way out of a tyranny that took everything from her.
Calla is not the woman who knows for certain that she wants a child. Some of us are not keen to become mothers. This isn’t a story about a strong, unbeatable inclination to have children. This is about choice. Her life seems somehow void of meaning, the man she dates is an absolute selfish bastard, and she starts wondering. She has doubts. We’ve all been there at some point in our life. Do I want a child? Do I want to change my life? But with Calla, the question is much more poignant. Why can’t I choose? Who gave THEM the right to judge whether I am the paragon of motherhood or not? We can choose. We must. Calla doesn’t have this luxury. And she becomes desperate and watches the world passing by, becoming more and more vulnerable in sequences that are delivered through hypnotic prose, sometimes so raw that make you avert your eyes from the page. Calla does fall and needs to rise again.
”[…] for I was not fragile, I was not protectable, I was dark wind and dust blowing across a landscape, and there was nothing anybody could do for me.”
I understood Calla and I loved her character. Her doubts and fears felt oddly familiar. Her spirit, even audacity, at the beginning and the slow but certain downward spiral when everything seems to fall apart are given through poetic and confident writing and are brilliantly depicted I was disheartened by many of the reviews. Do not ”deny” a book because of a certain punctuation and dialogue style. Do not project your morality over a writer’s choice. If a reader cannot abide with ”demanding” styles and complex, controversial characters, then the word ‘reader” cannot be applied to them. Calling Calla a ‘’slut’’ and utterly overlooking the exceptional depiction of the solidarity amongst the women who demand their right to choose brings to mind the voices against the ones who support choice in all matters that have to do with our body and our life. I think we all know what I’m talking about…I am a fervent lover of choice, I’ve always been, I’ll always be. And I can’t deal with stupidity…
Written in a style that requires absolute attention and experience, Blue Ticket is as haunting as The Water Cure, and for me, it is even more interesting and relatable. It is beautiful, at times, mesmerizing and if you don’t sympathize with Calla, you have no heart…
”My name is Calla, and I wanted to choose.”
Many thanks to Penguin and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.