Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Cover of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerFrom the publisher:

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

Parable of the Sower is set in what’s essentially the apocalypse, following a young woman named Lauren in Southern California during an economic and social crisis.  The book explores religion and philosophy, faith in the face of a crumbling society, and the formation of a family in times of crisis.

As something of a disclaimer, I’ve read one other novel by Octavia Butler — a standalone titled Kindred — and gave the book 5 stars.  Much of that was due to the writing style, and Parable of the Sower is written in similarly accessible language: the narrator speaks normally, and Butler’s prose isn’t flowerly, overly technical, or — as I described to a friend — “so complicated that she sounds like an asshole.”

While I didn’t enjoy Parable of the Sower as much as I enjoyed Kindred, I did enjoy it, and the book made me think.  Though set in what was at the time a relatively distant future of 2024, it’s close enough to present-day to make me think of what might be coming.  The novel is about environment, human nature, and the essence of family, and addresses racial and gender realities.

I was reading this book to evaluate whether or not to include it as a Girls in Capes book club selection, and it definitely made the cut.  We’ll be reading this for our April selection to coincide with The Growing Issue at GiC.

4 out of 5 stars

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