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Check It Out: Outlawed by Anna North

This is Jessi Wakefield with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out. 

“In the year of our Lord 1894, I became an outlaw.” With this opening line, Anna North’s newest novel Outlawed pulled me in and held me there for the rest of the ride.   

North writes of an alternate history in which a Great Flu wiped out 9/10ths of the U.S. population, the country fell apart, and a woman who could not bear children to rebuild the population was considered a witch, something that was a hangable offense. 

At first glance, married life for 17-year-old Ada is everything she would ever hope it would be. She loves her husband, she is valued in town, and she is blessed with youth and vitality. But after a year of marriage and no pregnancy her survival depends on leaving behind everything she knows. She flees, ultimately ending up with the Hole in the Wall Gang at their holdout in the mysterious “territories.”

Although she is not overly welcomed at the start, her background in medicine proves to be her ticket to being slowly accepted by Kid, the gang’s preacher-turned-robber leader. Charismatic and mercurial, the Kid is determined to create a safe haven for outcast women. A place where Ada feels she has finally found a home and a purpose. 

Outlawed is a mix of dystopian and western genres with a strong sense of LGBTQ+ and women’s rights all the while featuring an irresistibly no-nonsense, courageous, and determined heroine. The publisher even dubs the novel as The Crucible meets True Grit. Anna North has crafted a page-turning saga about the search for hope in the wake of death, and for truth in a climate of small-mindedness and fear. 

Take a chance and check out Outlawed by Anna North or contact us at the Sioux City Public Library where we can connect you with your next great read. 

Support for Check It Out on Siouxland Public Media comes from Avery Brothers.