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Vox
Cover of Vox
Vox
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
ONE OF ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S AND SHEREADS' BOOKS TO READ AFTER THE HANDMAID'S TALE
"[An] electrifying debut."—O, The Oprah Magazine *
"The real-life parallels will make you shiver."—Cosmopolitan
Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
This is just the beginning...not the end.
One of Good Morning America's "Best Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer"
One of PopSugar, Refinery29, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Real Simple, i09, and Amazon's Best Books to Read in August 2018
NATIONAL BESTSELLER
ONE OF ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY'S AND SHEREADS' BOOKS TO READ AFTER THE HANDMAID'S TALE
"[An] electrifying debut."—O, The Oprah Magazine *
"The real-life parallels will make you shiver."—Cosmopolitan
Set in a United States in which half the population has been silenced, Vox is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than one hundred words per day, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial. This can't happen here. Not in America. Not to her.
Soon women are not permitted to hold jobs. Girls are not taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words each day, but now women have only one hundred to make themselves heard.
For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.
This is just the beginning...not the end.
One of Good Morning America's "Best Books to Bring to the Beach This Summer"
One of PopSugar, Refinery29, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Real Simple, i09, and Amazon's Best Books to Read in August 2018
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover ***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof*** Copyright © 2018 Christina Dalcher

    CHAPTER ONE

    If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a week's time, I wouldn't believe them. But I wouldn't argue. I wouldn't say a thing.

    I've become a woman of few words.

    Tonight at supper, before I speak my final syllables of the day, Patrick reaches over and taps the silver-toned device around my left wrist. It's a light touch, as if he were sharing the pain, or perhaps reminding me to stay quiet until the counter resets itself at midnight. This magic will happen while I sleep, and I'll begin Tuesday with a virgin slate. My daughter, Sonia's, counter will do the same.

    My boys do not wear word counters.

    Over dinner, they are all engaged in the usual chatter about school.

    Sonia also attends school, although she never wastes words discussing her days. At supper, between bites of a simple stew I made from memory, Patrick questions her about her progress in home economics, physical fitness, and a new course titled Simple Accounting for Households. Is she obeying the teachers? Will she earn high marks this term? He knows exactly the type of questions to ask: closed-ended, requiring only a nod or a shake of the head.

    I watch and listen, my nails carving half-moons into the flesh of my palms. Sonia nods when appropriate, wrinkles her nose when my young twins, not understanding the importance of yes/no interrogatives and finite answer sets, ask their sister to tell them what the teachers are like, how the classes are, which subject she likes best. So many open-ended questions. I refuse to think they do understand, that they're baiting her, teasing out words. But at eleven, they're old enough to know. And they've seen what happens when we overuse words.

    Sonia's lips quiver as she looks from one brother to another, the pink of her tongue trembling on the edge of her teeth or the plump of her lower lip, a body part with a mind of its own, undulating. Steven, my eldest, extends a hand and touches his forefinger to her mouth.

    I could tell them what they want to know: All men at the front of the classrooms now. One-way system. Teachers talk. Students listen. It would cost me sixteen words.

    I have five left.

    "How is her vocabulary?" Patrick asks, knocking his chin my way. He rephrases. "Is she learning?"

    I shrug. By six, Sonia should have an army of ten thousand lexemes, individual troops that assemble and come to attention and obey the orders her small, still-plastic brain issues. Should have, if the three R's weren't now reduced to one: simple arithmetic. After all, one day my daughter will be expected to shop and run a household, to be a devoted and dutiful wife. You need math for that, but not spelling. Not literature. Not a voice.

    "You're the cognitive linguist," Patrick says, gathering empty plates, urging Steven to do the same.

    "Was."

    "Are."

    In spite of my year of practice, the extra words leak out before I can stop them: "No. I'm. Not."

    Patrick watches the counter tick off another three entries. I feel the pressure of each on my pulse like an ominous drum. "That's enough, Jean," he says.

    The boys exchange worried looks, the kind of worry that comes from knowing what occurs if the counter surpasses those three digits. One, zero, zero. This is when I say my last Monday word. To my daughter. The whispered "Goodnight" has barely escaped when Patrick's eyes meet mine, pleading.

    I scoop her up and carry her off to bed. She's heavier now, almost too much girl to be hoisted up, and I...

About the Author-
  • CHRISTINA DALCHER earned her doctorate in theoretical linguistics from Georgetown University. She specializes in the phonetics of sound change in Italian and British dialects and has taught at several universities.
    Her short stories and flash fiction appear in over one hundred journals worldwide. Recognitions include the Bath Flash Award's Short List, nominations for The Pushcart Prize, and multiple other awards. She teaches flash fiction as a member of the faculty at The Muse Writers Center in Norfolk, Virginia.
    VOX is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 11, 2018
    In her provocative debut, linguist Dalcher imagines a near future in which speech and language—or the withholding thereof—are instruments of control. The election of a conservative president with a charismatic (and psychotic) religious advisor is merely the final straw in a decades-long trend toward repression and authoritarianism. For years, cognitive linguist Jean McClellan, a well-educated white woman, chose to immerse herself in academia rather than become politically active, even as signs of authoritarianism were proliferating. Now, however, a year after the election, women in the United States have been limited to speaking no more than 100 words per day or face painful consequences. When the President’s brother suffers an accident that affects his brain’s speech centers, Jean might be able to leverage her expertise to restore her status. Dalcher’s narrative raises questions about the links between language and authority; most chilling is the specter of young girls being starved of language and, consequently, the capacity to think critically. The novel’s muddled climax and implausible denouement fail to live up to its intriguing premise. Nevertheless, Dalcher’s novel carries an undeniably powerful message.

  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Julia Whelan brings this realistic, thought-provoking debut to life with heart. She is the voice of Dr. Jean McClellan, once a renowned scientist, now a mostly mute, angry wife and mother who is looking for a way to reclaim her voice and personhood. Whelan expresses a range of emotions: regret for past disengagement, fear as she contemplates her daughter's life without a voice, and determination to fight back in a nation that silences and sidelines half its population. Whelan gives husband Patrick a meek voice peppered with endearments as he encourages Jean to "go along to get along." Son Steven expresses the arrogance of youth as he spouts the propaganda that is passing for education at school. A frighteningly believable story that ends with hope. N.E.M. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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