“He, She, and It” is a novel about a young woman, Shira, who is in the midst of a divorce and loses custody of her young son, Ari. Because Shira knows that she cannot be with Ari, she chooses to take a job working with her grandmother on the East Coast. When Shira begins her new job, she meets and falls in love with a cyborg named Yod, who was created as a weapon.
Throughout the novel, Shira struggles with the question of “what makes a person?” She feels in her heart that Yod is a real person, despite his mechanical insides, but when the rest of her city finds out about Yod, they feel quite differently. “How can a robot have feelings?” They ask. Most of the townspeople do not believe that Yod is real, and Shira, despite their negativity, stands firm in her relationship with Yod.
Shira does not plan to fall in love with Yod. Her job is to teach him social skills so that he can blend into the community. He looks and feels like a real person. He has a male body – complete with hair, skin, and eyes. Yod reacts to touch and is sensitive to other people’s feelings. When Yod and Shira begin to spend time together, she is immediately drawn to both his innocence and his knowledge. Shira is a woman who has been hurt by many men, so she is hesitant to fall in love, but she does fall deeply in love with him.
Yod must deal with the fact that he was created not for love, but to be a weapon to protect their town. His creator, Avram, is constantly reminding both Yod and Shira that Yod might have to die if the town faces war or other dangers. Yod understands this, but Shira is hesitant to accept this fact. Despite the fact that Yod may eventually die, Shira grows closer and closer to him.
“He, She, and It” deals with many political issues facing the world at the time the novel takes place. Y-S is the major corporation that rules the world. There is no “government,” per say, but the major corporations, or “multis,” as they are referred to as, basically control the economy and divide the world into different classes. Shira is eventually targeted by Y-S because of her work with Yod. Y-S understands that Yod is a weapon and they want to take him and create more of him so that they can rule the world. Shira cleverly evades Y-S, but their presence is visible throughout the novel, even in small ways. For instance, Shira dresses according to Y-S protocol. People who live in the Y-S area are assigned a house with a special employee number on the front door. Their children go to special Y-S daycares and they eat at Y-S cafeterias. People who live under the Y-S empire experience very little freedom, yet Shira manages to devote her time and spirit to Yod, who helps her better understand their situation and the surrounding world.
This novel is an exciting read that is nearly impossible to set down. Shira and Yod are both captivating characters who are interesting and intriguing the entire book throughout.
He, She, and It: by Marge Piercy