Cover Image: Here Lies

Here Lies

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Member Reviews

Nunca estuve tan perdida como en este libro.
The plot is very bland for me for me and I really having a hard time to finished it.
I also have a hard to get attached to the characters. I feel that the characters is not being developed very well.
I love how the book mentioned or talk about global warming or some ecosystem, it really an eye opener but something felt off like a characters itself doesn't really practising to protect the nature by the right method. So, Its a little off there. The prose had lots of potential but that was it. The whole concept of burials being harmful for the planet was poorly researched because guess what? Burying a dead body is the healthiest and easiest way to deal with it. Cremation takes too much energy and causes pollution too, so yeah, the very base of the book doesn't make any sense. It still baffles me. 
The characters seemed shallow and superficial to me. There were too many references (I suppose they're pop culture references?) used to make up the characters' personality that I absolutely didn't get (being non-American). I feel disappointed about this because like I said, the prose was nice to read most of the time, but it didn't matter because there was no connection between the plot, the characters and the environment.
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This was a story about grief, loss and finding what gives us peace. It is about choices made and how we sometime feel connection with strangers. How they feel that we have known them since ages.

Sometimes there were stuff which felt just added there. This had beautiful lines and was a quick read. It was good.
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3.5 stars. Twenty years in the future, in a world ravaged by climate change, states have banned burials and closed cemeteries, and all deceased individuals are cremated and stored by the state. In the small town of St. Genevieve, Louisiana, Alma is haunted by the death of her mother six months previously, and by the fact that she did not find a way to honor her mother's final wish to be buried. As she begins the process of trying to retrieve her mother's ashes from the state, her path intersects with a handful of other lonely, damaged women.

Here Lies takes place 20 years in the future, but this is not a dystopian novel or even "cli-fi." It doesn't have elaborate, sprawling world-building, and in fact, the world of this novel looks and feels very much like our own in most ways. Here Lies is, instead, a quiet, lyrical meditation on grief and found family. Olivia Clare Friedman is a poet, and that's apparent in her gorgeous prose and profound turns of phrase.

In only 200 pages, Friedman gives readers several well-developed female characters to root for and explores themes of grief and mourning, the importance of human connection, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds. I appreciate the story Friedman told in this novel, but I do wish that some concepts introduced in the novel would have been expanded on a bit more. Nevertheless, Here Lies is a thoughtful, insightful book about strength, loyalty, and healing that I think will appeal to many readers.
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3 stars

This is the author’s first published full-length novel; previously she has written poetry and short stories. This is reflected in the writing style.

In terms of the writing and themes, I think the book hits the mark. It’s a literary near future slice of life, focused upon the idea of an America in which ‘choice,’ in birth, life, and death, is an increasingly restricted concept. I think the connection between death rights and abortion rights was perhaps a little heavy-handed, but the prose does a good job of conveying the drifting impotence of a landscape in which there are so few personal freedoms, while getting the reader to consider just what is so important about bodily autonomy in life and after death. The setting’s atmosphere has a hazy, unreal quality that seems appropriate for both our main character’s state of mind and the nonsensical actions of the futuristic bureaucracy.

As a piece of speculative eco-futurist fiction, it doesn’t always work. It’s tempting to excuse the parts that don’t make logical sense as aspects of the futurist world that our depressed, disadvantaged narrator is too ignorant or uninformed to question or explain, but they aren’t interesting or thought-provoking mysteries, so they just end up feeling more like places where the author hasn’t given enough thought to the world. For those who are interested in more informed and sustained literary commentary on politics, climate change, or human rights, this is not the book to turn to.
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Thank you to @netgalley who sent me a copy of Here Lies by Olivia Clare Friedman in exchange for a review. Published 22 March 2022! ⁣
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This book had a lot to offer and when I first saw the premise I was all in. Here Lies tells of a landscape where cremation is mandatory and burying is restricted, all in the face of global warming/climate change and need of the land. The ashes of loved ones are kept by the government and funerals are pretty much illegal. ⁣
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What a premise, right? ⁣
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We follow Alma’s perspective as she struggles with the loss of her mother and battles everyday with grief at the forefront of her mind. Especially because she promised her mother a burial, and she failed to achieve this. An unlikely friendship is formed with her librarian and a girl who keeps stealing the quiet space of the top floor, and in a bid to return Alma’s mums ashes to her, they decide to come together and cross the country to retrieve them and bury them. ⁣
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I really liked this book and thought it was really intriguing and thought provoking. However, I think perhaps more space was needed (this book is a short one!) to explore the intricacies of this law being imposed. Here Lies is a dive into what it means to be able to choose your own burial and the impact on grief for family members because of that. ⁣
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Overall, the writing was very captivating and intentional, it was direct and sometimes harsh, but I really loved this quality of the story as it gave a ‘glum’ and ordered feeling to the text that really represented the mourning theme and numbness. I think this book will be a base for a lot of my conversations of death and grief, and governments having to restrict human rights. I found this book to be super original.
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Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing me with an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

The synopsis for this novel gripped me quickly as I was reading it. Which means that, naturally, I requested an advance reading copy.

When I started reading the ARC, I had a feeling I would love this story. Unfortunately, that was not what happened after reading 25% of it.

This is a poetically written story about the future, 2024 to be exact, where it has become illegal to bury the dead. The reason is due to climate change, where it rains so much, the dead rise with the water levels, causing them to go along with currents.

We are following Alma whose mother just passed away from ovarian cancer and she is trying everything in her power to retrieve her mother's ashes from the State. Durning that journey she meets a stranger to town and immediately they connect.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the review, this story is poetic. It includes beautiful lines, of which many I annotated, along with metaphors. Which makes sense to me as the author is a poet, or at least has published a poetry collection prior to this novel.
While beautiful, after a while, it started to feel like too much. There were points where I didn't know if the character(s) were actually doing something or if it was metaphorically added there, but a different action was taking place.

This is a quick read, but keep in mind that there is mentions of losing a parent/parental figure, talks about religion (mostly Catholic) and mentions of domestic violence sprinkled along the text.

I don't think that this will be a story for everyone, but I know there will be many who will love it.

⭐️3 STARS⭐️
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This novel is a close-up look at the personal consequences of necropolitic decisions.

In a near future where global warming has brought devastating storms and dying ecosystems, and the rising oceans have swallowed the coasts of the world, humankind has gotten so desperate to make every available piece of land usable for agriculture that the U.S. has abolished cemeteries. Corpses are now routinely cremated and stored as government property. If we thought the climate crisis would drive humanity to prey on itself, this scenario shows a horrific extension of that forecast: it's a future where human beings have no say on their final resting place.

However, Here Lies is not here for the academic and juridical debate that its premise seems designed to invite. It's not a story of legislators or social reformers. It's the story of an ordinary citizen with negligible power, a tiny statistical point in a faceless wave of dehumanization. Alma, a recently orphaned young woman living in Louisiana, is navigating the arcane rules of bureaucracy to try to reclaim her mother's ashes from the government. The narration follows her everyday routine without toning down its dryness and hopelessness. She depends on unemployment checks, only has one friend, can't keep track of the cat she inherited from her mother, and spends her day between the TV and the computer screen. The world is an uncertain place, she doesn't see a place for her in it, and all she wants is to have her mother's remains in a place that at least is known to her. This is a remarkably tiny scope for the plot of a whole novel, but the author guides us to a rich vein of emotional depth inside Alma. Here Lies makes reference to big ideas, but it wastes no time in abstractions. It's primarily concerned with how those ideas impact real people. It's a novel where the political truly becomes personal.

While Alma struggles with paperwork and procedure, we see her adopt a new friend into her house: pregnant teenager Bordelon, who has also lost a family member, but is resigned to not being able to recover the ashes. The plot establishes a parallel between Alma's desire to hold in her hands the recipient where her mother is kept and her reluctance to touch Bordelon's pregnant belly. The fact that both "containers" yield their "contents" at the same time reinforces the analogy suggested several times in dialogue between the freedom of choice regarding childbirth and the freedom of choice regarding burial. It's an apt symbolic device: if political theory derives from ethical theory, then laws express notions of a preferred way of life. In Here Lies, the government's version of the preferred way of life extends to a preferred way of death. A government that can constrain your childbirth decisions can also seize your remains and keep them hidden.

The tension between the personal and the political is the main focus of Here Lies, to the point that not much attention is given to the believability of the worldbuilding. It doesn't really matter that the abolition of cemeteries is an extremely unlikely result of land scarcity; it doesn't matter either that a law banning all manner of funeral rites would never have a realistic chance of being passed. That's not the point. The author's effort is not invested in making an accurate forecast of the future, but in exploring the inner strength that's still available to the powerless when they rely on each other.

With its reduced cast and limited timespan, Here Lies is a very small story, but it's written with a quiet lyricism that reveals a protagonist with a vastly rich inner life. She's not trying to change the world or overthrow the system or liberate the downtrodden, however much her world screams for such drastic changes. No, sometimes it's enough for a story to concentrate on the lives we neglect because we assume they're of no consequence. Someone like Alma means nothing to the wide world. But getting her mother's ashes means the world to her, and that conviction sustains the entire story.

Nerd Coefficient: 6/10
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In the year 2042, climate change has prompted new restrictions: no funerals, no burials, and everyone must be cremated. Unless the deceased was someone’s only relation, the remains are the property of the state. Alma, 21, alone, unemployed, and mourning her mother, is determined to claim her ashes. In her quest, she befriends Bordelon, a homeless 19-year-old with her own losses and struggles, as well as several women who aid in their own unique ways.

Friedman’s writing on grief, found family, and loyalty hits hard at times, but other details make this a perplexing read. Why is burial banned–and is cremation so much better for the climate? Why is public mourning also banned? Why are other details of the 20-year-on future basically unchanged from today (from vehicles to pop culture to phones)? The only difference here is the handling of the dead. None of these things are explained (though the loss of mourning rituals certainly reflects recent COVID-era experiences–perhaps it was the inspiration?). While the future setting falls a bit flat, I loved the characters, their relationships, and Friedman’s handling of grief.
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A super fast read about the future and global warming and promises that we keep.

Alma made a promise to her mother to bury her in the ground when she died, except that's now illegal. Now, in an effort to fulfill this last wish and to crush her sense of loneliness, Alma, a stranger and a group of local woman all band together to forge ahead to bury her mother. 

This is a story about family - that no matter what, you keep your promises. 

It's a beautiful story and Olivia Clare Friedman writes in a way that words flow like a gentle river. I look forward to reading what comes next from her. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This is the type of story that makes you feel smart, and it’s only 200 pages so if you need to feel smart quickly just give this a go!

The language is easy to follow and I never felt lost. The “deeper meaning” was obvious in some places and not so obvious in others. By the end of it I sort of just shrugged my shoulders and went “okay, that’s finished.”

That’s me basically saying I didn’t feel like this was anything special. I enjoyed the reading, I loved Bordelon’s character, and the advancement of the government’s death laws were interesting to see. I just don’t feel different or moved by the end of it, is all. 

Just an average read for me.
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On the surface this is a fantasy, almost a sci-if, a world we recognise but don’t live in. But at its heart is a truth about a future that looks closer and closer. What would happen when land becomes so scarce and so precious that only the living have rights to it? Whilst it is set in the near future, there are aspects that are easily identifiable as very now.

As a whole, I dislike fiction about global warming or about us destroying the planet as I come to stories for escapism, not to be preached at. But this comes to it from a different angle, so subtle that you don’t even know it’s there, and you just concentrate on the friendship at its heart.

It’s a short book, which I feel is enough. It’s a brutal, emotional punch and I think 200 pages is perfect to find the right tone. Any less and you wouldn’t make that emotional connection, but any more and I think it would become uncomfortable. A book to really get your teeth stuck into, and a perfect story to discuss with others.
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A future, far too easy to imagine, Here Lies, is a poignant insight into a future Louisiana ravaged by climate change where even the dead can’t lie in peace.

The effects of climate change have necessitated the closure of graveyard burials and mandated cremations. After the death of her mother, Alma is haunted by her failure to fufill her mother’s last wish to be buried in her own backyard.

Driven by the desire to reclaim her mother’s ashes, Alma begins a journey of unburial and with the help of a mysterious stranger and a group of local women, learns the meaning of family and strength.

What I liked: The concept of a future torn devastated by the consequences of global warming facing the reality of life and death.

The language was beautiful and prosiac. It flowed beautifully and carried me through the novel – it if wasn’t so beautifully formed, I don’t think I could have finished this story.

What I didn’t like: The storyline felt incomplete and the concept that drew me to the novel, never really eventuated – it wasn’t really fleshed out and the ‘no burials’ seemed like the only real consequence of climate change – there were no other indicators of a true problem.

Conclusion: This feels like the kind of book that might hit more successfully on a re-read. I have been unwell with COVID and perhaps didn’t have the focus to truly appreciate this book.

I struggled to connect with Alma, her character felt entirely one-dimensional, focused completely on her mission without any development as a person.
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I'm having a hard time with this review for two reasons: one, it strongly reminds me of something I read a few years back but I can't remember what it is and I've held off for long enough (I'll update if I recall!). Two, and more importantly, while I liked this book, it didn't feel entirely finished to me. I'll echo other reviewers when I say key plot points seemed not as fleshed-out as they could have been (to the best of my understanding, burials are prohibited because land is in such short supply and maybe because natural disasters could unearth bodies - but I'm less confident in that than I'd like to be). That said, we're hearing from a grieving narrator in a drained, climate-changed world where very little feels within her (or anybody's) control, so maybe this lack of clarity is appropriate. And despite my not fully understanding why burials are so aggressively banned, I completely bought Alma's single-mindedness in her quest to obtain her mother's ashes. I guess I just wanted to go a little deeper - this was a very factual, here-and-now novel - but I can understand why it was written that way.
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Truth to be told, I am quite confused with the plot of this book. The plot is very bland for me for me and I really having a hard time to finished it. Mostly I just skimmed through it. It interesting at first, it does intrigued me but somehow it got boring after that.

I also have a hard to get attached to the characters. I feel that the characters is not being developed very well.

I love how the book mentioned or talk about global warming or some ecosystem, it really an eye opener but something felt off like a characters itself doesn't really practising to protect the nature by the right method. So, Its a little off there.

Afterall, it such a quick fast read and I really want to thank netgalley, the author and Grove Atlantic publisher for this e-arcs
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Alma's mother wanted to be buried after death, but the government has made burials illegal (due to climate change? Doesn't make sense, anyway), but Alma is guilty she couldn't fulfil her mother's wish and is attempting to claim her ashes so that she can at least bury that. That's the story.

The prose had lots of potential but that was it. The whole concept of burials being harmful for the planet was poorly researched because guess what? Burying a dead body is the healthiest and easiest way to deal with it. Cremation takes too much energy and causes pollution too, so yeah, the very base of the book doesn't make any sense. It still baffles me. Besides, the world is said to be suffering from extreme effects of climate change and yet, none of the characters even bother to not waste water??! Like, WHAT? Or even cut down fuel consumption?

The characters seemed shallow and superficial to me. There were too many references (I suppose they're pop culture references?) used to make up the characters' personality that I absolutely didn't get (being non-American). I feel disappointed about this because like I said, the prose was nice to read most of the time, but it didn't matter because there was no connection between the plot, the characters and the environment.
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21 years ahead from now, in 2042, life has completely changed on the planet. Climate change has made its ravages, the effects are catastrophic: waters are raising and lands are disappearing. Living conditions have regressed. Bodies can be buried anymore, to save living space. Alma, who has just lost her mother, feels lonelier than ever and is desperate to satisfy one of her mother's last wishes: be buried in the ground, return to the earth. Unfortunately, the state already cremated her, but maybe Alma can get the urn with the ashes back. Her fight will make her meet Bordelon, who will enter her life and they will both try to find their way out of this messy life.

This is a novel with a simple plot, with very few characters (two mains, two sides), but with a lot of emotions, highs, and downs, love and tears, sadness and joy. The narrow frame in which the characters evolve makes it easy to develop them, and for the reader to get to know them, to get intimate. This is a story about a quest, and we go along with Alma and Bordelon with our hearts.

I really enjoy stories like this where we don't get lost, where there is one goal, with some extensions, and we read our way through it. Maybe some will say that the whole situation on Earth is not explained enough, but I find it really comforting to focus on one single thing, to deep dive into one character and stay in this bubble.

Moreover, Alma and Bordelon are very endearing. They find themselves, and can't let go of each other. They are right together, and this is what helps them go through life.

The situation is kind of blurry, we are in a fog, we really only know the present. We don't know anything about Alma, except that she is in her twenties and without a job. Same for Bordelon. In some way, this is for us to focus only on the present, on what is happening, but it felt unsettling.

This book is for anyone who likes mindful stories, simple but deep ones, real-life fiction. This is neither historical fiction nor dystopic, it just is. If you like to be carried away in the character's life, that is for you.

Special thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for sharing a copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.
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Our world is in trouble – a race against time to save us from ourselves. Olivia Clare Friedman takes the current dread several steps further in her debut novel, “Here Lies”, where we are no longer even able to manage death with dignity.

“Here Lies” describes a world that is pretty grim: bleak, without much reason to hope. The best the well-drawn characters can do is try to get by day-by-day either in isolation or collaboration with a few trusted others. The government is not “Here to help.”. Fortunately, libraries and librarians are, as ever, a last bastion of refuge, sanity, and humanity. Faith is not totally absent but can only be applied surreptitiously. 

Friedman’s style is a delight. Sentences are often staccato and straight to the point. Settings and characters are quintessentially Southern. Dialogue is wonderful, showing Friedman’s skill both as a Creative Writing Professor, as well as her experience on the performing end of scripts.  There were times when I was reluctant to turn a page or read on, afraid that the next turn in the road might be the last. But I’m glad I did. Friedman captures the resiliency and tenacity of our species. There will always be hope.

Thanks to Grove Press and Netgalley for the eARC.
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Here lies, a story of future that has the power to shook you to the core. It is 2040, & you can not lie in peace after death. Because of climatic changes & global warming, burial  was illegal. Govt take the deceased body after a phone call and cremate it themself keeping the ashes. There is a lot of rules and regulations for getting back the ashes and chances of getting it is 10% out of 100. 

The story starts with Our protagonist searching in internet for a legal method for getting the remaining back. Her mother died few months ago, she wanted her body to be in the backyard. She never wanted to be in the hands of Govt, so what did Alma do? 

She was lost after her mother's death, but her mother's will keep her going. She met someone just like her, she talked and reached out to people for her goal, but did she manage? 

I truly love this one but there are some parts where i just skimmed it. Definitely a recommended one if you want to go for a quick read.
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I think this was one of the fastest books I've read recently. And I regret having read it so quickly, because I don't know if I managed to absorb it all.

So I didn't really understand why the burials were prohibited, I think the explanation was a little vague. And since that was the key point of the plot, it ended up making the whole story a little vague too.

However, this ends up being offset by the depth of the characters, the mourning and grief, and the strength we need when one of our important and essential right is taken away from us. It made me angry to see how indifferent Alma was treated, as if she and her mother weren't human beings.

Here Lies is the debut novel by author Olivia Clare Friedman and it didn't disappoint me. I definitely recommend it and I will also look foward to her upcoming releases.
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Here Lies is a tender portrait of Alma's Louisiana. It's 2042, and burials are against the law, as part of a plan to reclaim arable land to counter the effects of global warming. Alma wants to honour her mother's express wishes to be buried, but can't get hold of the ashes. Each chapter reads like a short story, not too heavily reliant on the last. There's gentle humour in learning about Alma's poetry teacher, Frances, and her not-so-secret Instagram page. Olivia Clare Friedman does a great job of Alma's inner voice, which is youthful yet wise. This is an example of climate fiction that is so readily imagined that it is almost certainly prophetic.
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