Blending elements of myth, fantasy, emergent powers and femininity, this novel centers on nine “Miracle babies” who are clones of their moms, born to women in a rural Vermont compound without any male DNA. The breakthrough accomplishment of a misfit, genius doctor, or something else? When Josie’s mother vanishes after a partial house fire, Josie (Girl One of the nine girls) takes a leave from medical school in Chicago to try to figure out what’s going on. Drawn into an increasingly complex thriller, Josie goes on a heart-pounding trek to find the other surviving Moms and daughters, as well as the elusive father figure of the doctor, who has died as the compound was burned to the ground 17 years earlier, before sharing how the girl’s virgin births occurred. As the daughters join forces to both find Josie’s Mom and learn the truth of their births, discover emergent supernatural powers they never realized they had, and get chased by men out to kill them, a cross-country chase unfolds into a crescendo of fiery revelations. Beneath the fast-moving plot, Murphy leads us through complex reflections about historical power balances between men and women, hostility to change, conception, religion, gender roles, sexuality, and the complexities of family dynamics. You thus have both the topical fast-moving plot sitting on top of a deeper philosophical meditation about myriad social norms we take for granted.
Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reader’s copy of this book.