Josephine "Jo" Thomas has spent the past 14 years in a state of mild disarray as she was forced to grow up motherless. Said mother disappeared without a trace one night, throwing Jo's life and her father's life into a shit heap that they made best-do with.
Oh also, witches exist in this world. They are hated. Monitored and tracked by the gov't. Jo's mother was assumed a witch. Since Jo is 28 and unmarried, she needs to be registered and she will be tracked more carefully.
Jo and her father decide to finally declare mom dead, to give up hope that she might still be out there. After doing so, her mother's will stipulates that Jo will inherit some 100+ thousand dollars if she goes to some weird little island to spend the night.
When Jo gets to the island, she sees her mother standing there, waving. You know shit gonna be poppin' off from here.
I loved this book. It added a layer of "more shit that white men could hate people for" by making witchdom a social justice issue, but damn did every part of this book just hit the institutional injustice of the world perfectly.
A big theme of the book is like, how could women live their lives fully, truly, when the only way for them to be "safe" is to get married and have a man dictate their safety by the nature of their relationship? This is paper-safety to make up a weak term; the safety only exists because of a man, and can end at any moment at the man's choosing. Women are not allowed to simply exist, to be who they are, without it fitting into a patriarchical society, without it being defined by men.
And it's crazy that in many ways, that's still how this shit is out here. Like, what the fuck.
p32: "There is nothing wrong with knowing you've been treated poorly for no good reason and wanting to be treated better."
p54: "My father told me once it wasn't true that people get more conservative over time; he said they just get tired and it's easy when you're tired to be agreeable."
p220: "Were people always this stupid? I wondered, and if so, how did we still exist?"