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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood is a 1985 publication.
This year I’ve been trying to add books into my reading schedule that 'the entire world has read but me.' This book falls into that category, I think. As it happens, I had downloaded this book from the Kindle Unlimited library a long while back but kept putting it off.
To be honest Dystopian literature is not my favorite. I have dabbled in the genre, but usually, I give it a pass. Not only that, something about all the comparisons to current events made the book feel intimidating and it made me nervous. I’m already in a constant state of anxiety and didn’t know if I wanted to read something that was going to add to it.
Sure enough, right off the bat, I was on edge. I see where the comparisons are coming from now. But I don’t think Margaret Atwood had a crystal ball back in 1985 when this book was first published. That is why I felt this book was so unsettling.
Society, not just in America, but everywhere, has seen periods of progress, followed by enormous setbacks in human rights of all types. Obviously, this novel addresses the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Religious extremes have prompted some serious conversations about this book, but the set up here, in my opinion, is a means to an end.
Now that I’ve skated past that land -mine-
What I took away from this story was a that it was an important cautionary tale. It’s a strong lesson in complacency which is the most prominent theme, and the one I feel has the most urgency. Today we toss around phrases like ‘new normal’ or ‘normalizing’, which sends chills down my spine.
While this is a fictional story, it does have a basis in real history, revealing cycles of progression and regression.
Is that how we lived, then? But we lived as usual. Everyone does, most of the time. Whatever is going on is as usual. Even this is as usual, now. We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it. Nothing changes instantly: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.
Overall, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this book. It gave me the willies, but it has also given me a lot to chew on. It pretty much sums up my feelings about resting on the laurels of those who have made sacrifices and did the grunt work for the privileges enjoyed by women today.
This book should be a lesson to us all. Complacency comes with consequences. Let’s make sure we never take our rights for granted, and that we continue to fight the good fight for ourselves and future generations.
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More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead
As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
"Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in."
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