Saturday, February 6, 2021


Anna North is a journalist and a novelist. Her journalistic work currently focuses on reproductive health and the politics thereof. She is the author of three novels, the newly released Outlawed, America Pacifica, and The Life and Death of Sophie Stark.

North applied the Page 69 Test to Outlawed and reported the following:
From page 69:
I had forgotten the calm of it, another person’s voice guiding me. The Kid sounded nothing like Mama—Mama’s voice was soft, with a roughness in it that she said came from childhood whooping cough, and the Kid’s was clear and loud, like the voices of the twelfth-form boys who got picked to read aloud from the almanac at the beginning of every school day. But unlike those boys, both the Kid and Mama could make me feel hypnotized, as though their words moved my very limbs, as though my hands were their hands.
Page 69 of Outlawed finds the Kid — the leader of the Hole in the Wall Gang — giving Ada, a newcomer and our narrator, a shooting lesson. In the process, the Kid also asks Ada, a former apprentice midwife with some medical training, for advice in treating chronic insomnia.

This page is pivotal in Outlawed for a couple of reasons. First, it establishes some parallels between the Kid and Mama, Ada’s mother. The extent of those parallels will become clearer later, but for now we learn that both are people who provide a level of guidance to Ada that’s so effective it’s almost like magic.

It’s also a turning point because we start to peek behind the Kid’s facade a little bit. The Kid has a very powerful, even fearless, persona, but here we learn that the character definitely has worries — the reader will learn more about what’s troubling the Kid later on, but the discussion of insomnia on page 69 is the first hint.

Finally, this is where Ada learns to shoot. It’s not a skill that’s always going to serve her well, but it’s an important one nonetheless, and helps to mark her transition from apprentice midwife to outlaw.

Overall, I think page 69 gives the reader an accurate idea of what they’re in for with this book — it gets at the big themes of the book and some of the core relationships too. One thing to note, however, is that it’s not a high point of action in the book. While it probably gives readers a decent idea of what to expect, I would say there are probably pages that are a bit more fun.
Learn more about the book and author at Anna North's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark.

--Marshal Zeringue