Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie PipkinGenesis might conjure up childhood memories of Sunday school and the beginning of the bible but in the lead character we have a namesake who is perversely the signifier of the end when an unplanned pregnancy leads to the melt down of a youthful relationship and a fatal decision.

This perfect storm of high emotion sends Genesis into a spiral of despair so debilitating that her perspective assumes an amorphous quality with any permanence or shape shattered by her lover’s betrayal and the subsequent emptiness left by an absent life. But Into this emotional vacuum enters Rose a devoted ally who views their friendship as an extension of herself; something selfless and instinctive.

The dialogue is conveyed in narrative and screenplay format, an unusual juxtaposition for the reader who becomes both passively and actively engaged in the story telling experience. By using these two approaches the reader experiences Gen’s pain through two sets of eyes, on stage the pain is more immediate but viewed through the eyes of her friends it’s more meaningful and somehow less detached.

The main characters have all been touched or are actively involved in the acting community and the impact of any perceived failure within this industry is embodied by Genesis’s father who struggles to both assimilate and succeed in this pressure cooker environment. But the focal point of the story is the perennial American debate surrounding abortion and the right to take life with the political argument only softened by the human context which underpins the reality of a final decision which is always nuanced and never black and white.

Inevitably relationships and the power of love and hope are the real healers but it is the serendipity of life that leaves us realising that creation is natural but its end can be premeditated and destructive.

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin (Published by Legend Press. Price £8.99). Buy it at Amazon.

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