Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

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Goodreads Summary

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...


This was part of my required reading this summer. I was actually really excited to read it. I recognized it the second I saw the list. I've actually had it on my TBR list on Goodreads for a while now. So I finally had a legitimate excuse to buy myself a copy.


Here's why.

First off, it's a dystopian. I really love dystopians. But more than that, I love those books that present worlds that make me think. And this one just had my mind racing. It was deep, and beautiful, and heartbreaking, and frustrating. I wanted to know more than Offred could ever tell us. I was in agony over everything she did tell us. I wanted to somehow fix everything, but it's a book, Wolfie, stop being crazy.

Offred's world is about as controversial as it gets. Women are for procreating. Except for those that are servants (the Marthas), the leaders (the Aunts), or the slaves (women sent to the Colonies to clean up, well, the pollution or toxic waste or something equally deadly). There's no polygamy, but the Handmaids are pretty much legal ways to sleep with other women. It's okay because there's no passion and it's just to create children *insert cringe here*.

But it gets you thinking. Or, it got me thinking.

Not too long ago I had this discussion with my best friend. I was pretty freakin frustrated a tad annoyed. I can't remember why exactly, but I was ranting about, well, girls. And how absolutely immodest some can be. And women want health care to cover birth control. And they don't want to be judged for sleeping with guys. They want to have abortions when they get pregnant. And this all makes me cringe and I get very upset. Because I'm all for strong women, really. Some women are just incredibly strong and independent. But why can't women also realize the very basic principle that sleeping with guys leads to children. If you don't want them, don't sleep with guys. I promise it's not that hard. Being a little responsible goes a long way... I'm going to stop there because I'm sure I'm already being labeled.

But this book brings up a lot of those woman issues. Love, freedom, independence, children. Offred had an incredible love (although he was cheating on his wife for her - I'm sure that's significant somehow). She had a gorgeous little daughter. She lost them both. She has to conceive or she'll be sent to the Colonies. She wants love, she wants her child, she's so utterly trapped and there's no one she can trust.

There's so much going on, I love it. The backstories were so insightful, brief as they were. They tied everything together. Offred's monologue were just beautiful. I connected with her so much. I felt like I understood her. I wish I knew how she turned out.

Worst. Ending. Ever.

The Historical Notes at the end were awesome, but I wanted a real ending. Instead I'm left with speculations and it hurts. I want to know.

I want to know her name.

I have a lead on that name, but I want to know. You know?

Overall, this book was just amazing. It was fast-paced, interesting. You're always on the edge of your seat because it's just so intense. The world was portrayed very well. The characters were set up nicely. Loved loved loved it.

(The only reason it's not a five is because that ending upsets me.)


Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommendation: for those who love dystopians and books that make you think

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