The Birth Yard by Mallory Tater
Sable Ursu has just turned eighteen, which means she is ready to breed. Within the confines of her world, a patriarchal cult known as the Den, female fertility and sexuality are wholly controlled by Men. In the season they come of age, Sable and her friends Mamie and Dinah are each paired with a Match with the purpose of conceiving a child. Sable is paired with Ambrose, the son of a favoured Man in the Den. Others are not so lucky.
In their second trimester, girls are sent to the Birth Yard, where they are prepared for giving birth and motherhood, but are also regularly drugged and monitored by their midwives. Sable is unable to ignore her unease about the pills they are forced to swallow and the punishments they receive for stepping out of line. Too many of the girls, including Mamie and Dinah, have secrets and it is impossible to know whom to trust. When Sable’s loyalty is questioned and her safety within the Den is threatened, she must rebel against the only life she has ever known—the only life she has been designed for.
Published: March 3, 2020
We’re women. Aren’t we good at staying hidden?
There are several trigger warnings that are associated with this book: animal killings, rape, abuse, and suicide.
In this totalitarian cult called The Den in which men have all the power. Women have no control over their bodies. The men control every aspect of a women’s body from their fertility, when they take birth control, when they conceive, how they conceive, and even how and when they give birth. Some men are in greater favour with Feles, the leader, which means they get nicer houses, better jobs, and their daughters/sons get better Matches (who to conceive children with).
Once the women become pregnant, they are sent to the “birth yard” where they being to prepare for giving birth. Each girl is assigned a midwife and they participate in exercises, have physical exams completed, and contribute to their society. The women are assigned certain chores and tasks to complete while they are waiting to give birth. This seems normal and okay… until you realize that the women are being drugged.
This novel follows Sable, who is 18 years old. It follows her as her father suggests who her Match is and how she becomes pregnant, the drugs she is forced to take, and when she gets to the birth yard. Along the way, Sable meets new friends and is placed with her friends in the nicer, better birth yard.
When the characters are taken outside of the confines of The Yard they begin to see that not men are bad. The men that they come in contact with are juxtaposed against those men who they grew up with all their lives – the men who rape women, and abuse them. The two groups that Sable and her companions meet while fleeing do not harm them or pose any threats like the women are made to believe.
This story is mostly character driven and I loved every second of it. The dystopian novels are what I love, the more dark, disturbing, and chilling they are the more I enjoy them. I think that’s why I enjoyed this novel, the dark tone and intensity really got to me, especially when they were in the Birth Yard.
This book was well written and so interesting! I want more! I’m hoping for a sequel and I can’t wait to see what else Tater does!