The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers

Jessie LambTrying to write about this book reminded me of why I’m not keen on writing reviews. My first attempts seem forced and artificial, as I was acting a role instead of expressing myself. I found myself writing an advertising blurb, trying to convey a sense of the story without trespassing into spoiler territory. So what is it about?

The story is set in a near future (next month or next year potentially) where bio-terrorist action has infected the world’s population with a virus that is deadly to all pregnant women. The human race therefore faces extinction within a generation.

Jessie Lamb wants to make a difference. She and her friends see the crisis as one result of the neglect and exploitation of the planet by their parent’s generation. They each adopt different activist paths: animal rights, environmentalism, extreme feminism, whatever they think will change the way society is heading. But aren’t those things merely addressing temporary problems overshadowed by the greater issue of human extinction? Won’t those issues be solved BY the extinction?

So what is the POINT of that activism? And how can Jessie make a REAL difference?
Extreme problems often require extreme solutions. But who pays the price and who determines who should pay the price?

Jessie’s Testament shows the struggle for answers to a problem with global and historical significance – but it condenses the struggle to the most intimate of human situations: a family relationship and the tensions between youthful idealism and parental pragmatism.

It’s a book where I felt myself drawn from one side of the generational conflict to the other. Perhaps there could never be an acceptable solution to the situation they face. Could Jessie’s parents ever accept Jessie’s chosen path when they are convinced her choice is wrong. Would they be equally opposed if it was someone else’s daughter taking it instead of their own?

And what is the decision dividing the family? Sorry – I’m not prepared to enter SPOILER territory.