Parable of the Sower | Octavia Butler


REVIEW by Sophie Devarenne | State Street Bookstore
Lauren Olamina suffers from hyperempathy, a condition that causes her to feel the physical pain of others. Living in California during an apocalyptic future of climate change, recourse scarcity, rampant crime, and late stage capitalism, Lauren’s hyperempathy makes her especially vulnerable. Against all odds, Lauren’s strength and resiliency allows her to survive and dream of a better world for future generations.
Parable of the Sower is a cautionary tale by the likes of 1984 and The Handmaids Tale with a black disabled protagonist and a powerful message about the possible future we
face with the continued exploitation of our Earth and the people inhabiting it. Octavia
Butler’s prophetic vision of the United States in the 21st century and her gritty, austere
writing unite to create a perfectly crafted dystopian story.


This highly acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from award-winning author Octavia E. Butler “pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale” (John Green, New York Times)–now with a new foreword by N. K. Jemisin.

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions.

Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.

Sophie Devarenne is a bookseller at our State Street location. Her favorite book at the moment is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction). She says the story is a perfect mix of captivating writing, suspense, and introspection with a cast of remarkably real and lovable characters.