Book Review: The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey

Book Review: The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey


The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey

Science Fiction/Mystery: The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey


I hardly know where to start with this amazing work by Sarah Gailey. They have written a book that is traumatic and beautiful, transformative and mesmerizing and cruel and healing. I am truly in awe.


Evelyn is an award-winning scientist, honored for her work in cloning humans. Human clones by design and by law are short-lived “tools,” created for specific purposes. Sometimes they are body doubles for world leaders, sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered while the “real” leader is safely ensconced away. Sometimes they are only meant to have their organs harvested to transplant into their sick or elderly originals. It’s not like they’re human. They are created in a lab, serve their purpose, then are disposed of like medical waste. Certainly they are never meant to be treated as real people, have real lives, make real babies, make real choices.


Certainly they are never meant to steal a husband, get pregnant, or commit murder.


Evelyn’s ex-husband Nathan has used her research to clone…her. Martine looks like Evelyn. She should–they share DNA. However, Nathan has programmed her to be the “perfect” wife. She does not want a career. She wants to keep the house clean and cook delicious meals and bear Nathan’s children. And while Evelyn was busy making her career and buying takeout and refusing to have children, Nathan stole her research and stole her lab supplies and stole the use of her assistant and created his ideal version of her. It was illegal, it was sick, it was immoral. It was done.


Sarah Gailey (they/them) has written a sci-fi noir that burns slowly and gradually gets darker and darker. Martine has been groomed to be Nathan’s perfect wife. What Evelyn gradually learns about herself and about Nathan is that he had tried–and failed–to groom her to meet his needs. Patterns like these are usually learned rather than created, and elements of Evelyn’s childhood loom large in this story. And really, is Evelyn any better than Nathan? Creating living breathing people, people who are generated in a laboratory but still have emotions and intelligence and the nascent ability to live life, people who are designed with a “kill switch” that can end their life with a phrase, people who are not allowed to live very long or get pregnant or have agency or fulfill jobs or do anything other than what they are designed to do. People who are tossed into a kiln when their function has been fulfilled.


As children we would visit places where our little voices would echo back to us. “Hello” we would call, and moments later “hello” would softly answer, sometimes several times, until it faded in the wind. Sarah Gailey has written a challenging novel that, like the echoes bouncing from canyon walls, will reverberate in readers well after they turn the last page.


Also see:

Book Review: Magic for Liars, Sarah Gailey

Book Review: When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey


The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey

Book Review: The Echo Wife, Sarah Gailey

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