Book: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Publication Date: April, 1998
Publisher: Anchor Books
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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…
Who would have thought that there would come a day when I actually liked a book I’m required to read for school. I went into this book with the most pessimistic mindset, because the last time I enjoyed an assigned reading book was at the beginning of last year, and have not enjoyed a single one since. But this book turned out to be really gripping, really dark, extremely disturbing, but somehow really enjoyable!
It took me a while to adapt to the writing style in this book. The way Atwood intertwined Offred’s past and present memories was often a bit confusing, and I had to go back and read some sentences multiple times to understand what’s really going on. I went into this book completely blind about the plot, so I was also really confused for the first 40 pages of the book- why is there a training school for women, what are they training for, who the hell is the Commander, until it clicked around 50 pages in, and I was completely horrified, taken aback, and sort of outraged. The way these women were taken and forcefully brainwashed to just become slaves solely for procreation- ooo it got me riled up. And what amazed me was that this book was written 30 YEARS AGO, but it all felt so real. The fact that Offred wasn’t born into this life- she was a working woman- she had a career, was a wife, a daughter, a mother- but suddenly, she wasn’t. All of a sudden, she had nothing to fight for. To be stripped of all individuality to such a terrifying degree-and have it made a norm- reading this was bone-chilling.
The book was almost draining to read, because even imagining yourself in Offred’s situation- completely isolated, completely alone, surrounded by a creepy and perverted Commander, his bitter, manipulative Wife, judgemental Martha’s- it’s all emotionally exhausting. The idea that Offred had the chance to join a Resistance gave me hope, until I saw that she didn’t have any hope for it. This book was draining in so many ways, until the ending came along. Talk about unexpected, because I did NOT see it coming. and thank god Margaret Atwood is releasing a sequel, because I don’t know what I would’ve done with myself if that was the end.
I really don’t want to say too much about this book, because I think it’s an experience worth forming yourself, and going into blind was probably a good thing for me, because it blew me away all the more. I for one, can’t wait to see what Atwood has in store for us in the sequel.
If you haven’t already, 100% worth picking up. Have you read the book? What did you think? Are you excited for the sequel? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!