The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Wow.  I said earlier that I was unsure whether I wanted to scream or cry while reading this, and it still holds true now that I am finished.  My general feeling after finishing this is shock over how horrifyingly relevant this book still is.  In 2014.  Still.   

 

 

"Oiling themselves like roast meat on a spit, and bare backs and shoulder, on the street, in public, and legs, not even stockings on them, no wonder these things used to happen."

 

How many times have women heard this?  What were you wearing when you were assaulted? 

 

"But whose fault was it? Aunt Helena says, holding up one plump finger. Her fault, her fault, her fault, we all chant in unison. Who lead them on? Aunt Helena beams, pleased with us. She did. She did. She did. Why did God allow such a terrible thing to  to happen? Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson." 

 

And so it begins.  The covering of women, the outlawing of reading and gaining of knowledge by women, based around the views of the Old Testament.  Control the women to control the men.  Women are put in their rightful place, as procreators.  Women are protected.  Unless they can't procreate. Those take care of the home or are deemed Unwomen and sent to the colonies to help remove toxic waste.  

 

"You wanted a women's culture.  Well, now there is one.  It isn't what you meant, but it exists.  Be thankful for some mercies." 

 

 

The one thing that sticks with me throughout this is Ofwarren's hope though.  It may be minuscule, but there is always some in some way.  She always feels something.  Anger, love, horror, fear, fight. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.” Don't let the bastards grind you down.  She reads this and it sticks with her.  No matter what she is doing. She seems broken on the outside, but she finds little ways to fight back the entire time.  It provides the book a desperately needed undercurrent of hope. 

 

Overall, this was just an amazing book.  It may not be the happiest book on the planet, in fact I'd consider it more horror than dystopian.  That's just me though. But everything aspect of it made me think. And worry.  And wonder about what I am teaching my kids now and what I can do differently in the future. That is what makes a book amazing for me.