"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood or OH MY! NO! THIS SHIT IS REAL!!!
Edition I Read: Written by: Margaret Atwood Published by: Fawcett Crest 395 pages Genre: Dystopian fiction Themes: Fertility, Women's Rights, Politics, Religion
My Feelings on the Book:
This book takes place in a potential future within American society where women have most of their rights taken away from them. They are not even allowed to work and make money in this future. Their reproductive rights are also taken away. This information is not spoiler information either because this is information you discover within the first few pages of the book. The book centers around the character named Offred.
Offred is a Handmaid, which is a female placed within a house of an individual in authority power that has a wife that is barren. The Handmaid is to try to reproduce with the male through a ceremony that the barren wife is involved in. This all through me for a bit of a loop because it reminded me so much of the issues that women are actually currently facing with their reproductive rights currently. Other people making the decisions on what they can or cannot do with their bodies. This book is very rooted into that particular mindset. What made it scarier for me is that this book was first published in 1985, so there was no way that this author could know that this is where we would end up. This potential future seems way too close for comfortability. The story discusses various aspects of what she has to deal with within this society. It also discusses in brief spurts her life before this society was formed and how she misses certain aspects of that reality. She discusses missing smoking, friends, family, and so many other things that have been stripped away from her simply for the betterment of some people in society.
The book is very "real" in spots and made me cringe. I wanted to stop it a few times because I kept crying because it hit home too much right now. I can see this all coming to pass and that scared the crap out of me. I kept reading though because it felt like one of the most important reads of my life. It felt so important that when I finished it I immediately told my partner that he had to read it as well. He had read dystopian fiction before, so he did not have the same reaction as I did. It was something that harrowed me greatly. I felt punched in the gut after reading it. This could very well become our reality.
I did not pick up another book for a couple weeks after reading this book. I let this book simmer within me. I let it be processed more than any other book that I have ever read. I wanted to understand it, but also feel it in a way that I have not permitted myself with other books. I still feel at a loss for how to explain the feelings that came from this particular read. It moved me for more than any other book has. It made me want to utilize my voice that I have not utilized yet. It helped awaken something inside of me, but I need to find a way to keep that thing awakened. I do not know what to call this thing either, maybe madness, maybe hope, maybe not wanting this future that I see possibly formulating around me. Yes, I utilized the world hope with this dire book. The reason I can use that word is because we are not there yet. We are removed from it enough still that maybe we can change the course of history, so I hold onto hope that the reality within "The Handmaid's Tale" never comes to fruition, but I feel that others must read this book to understand a possibility. A true possibility for our future if we do not learn to allow others to exist, simply exist.
Women's rights and specifically reproductive rights are at the center of this particular book. This runs throughout this book and helps focus us on the plight that Offred finds herself in. If we are able to draw comparisons we know that this is currently happening in our society as well. In American society right now Women's reproductive rights is a hot bed issue with legislators deciding if abortion should still be legal or not. Right-wing individuals have been slowly trying to chip away at the funding of the organization "Planned Parenthood" to try to help end abortions in American society. This is one reason that some of this book is truly scary. The heart of it feels like we are starting to see some of this occur. Most of this book feels like you can see these small little things that they had to do in society to get this new way of existing set-up and it feels like they are doing it currently in our society in many ways. This is why this is truly a horror book, in my opinion. While we have not taken jobs away from women or siphoned all the money out of their bank accounts there are elements, like the defunding of Planned Parenthood, that are taking place in our society. It is this reality that we can feel as a reader that makes this read very poignant for the current time period and one I would highly recommend others to read right now.
Who I Would Recommend & Not Recommend This Book To:
If you are an individual that wants to feel a bit of a chill on your back while you are reading then this is a perfect book to read. It will hit you hard and you will cringe as you start understanding the elements of society that changed America into this society presented in the book. I would also recommend this to individuals that want a book that has a bit of a social issue contained within it, which is that of Women's rights, as discussed previously. It also would be a great book for a small women's book club that wants to discuss various aspects of society that are currently happening. I would recommend this to right-wing and left-wing individuals to see the world through different lenses. You get the aristocracy perspective that can help those in the left-wing viewpoint to see why others may hold onto this view and for the right-wing viewpoint you can see why people may want to have the rights over their own body. I cannot recommend this book enough to a multitude of types of people. Everyone can walk away from this book with something that touches them in their own way.
I would not recommend this to someone that has had a lot happen to themselves in life. If you are dealing with a lot of personal issues then this may not be the correct book for you right now because it will bring up a lot of stuff for anyone dealing with pain. It also would not be a good book for an individual that is still reeling from the American election. This book will scare you perhaps too much, even though that may not be an entirely bad thing.