By Margaret Atwood.
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…
I think this book is an extremely important read.
To me, it belongs alongside 1984 and Brave New World as books that I truly believe everyone should read.
Those two books had a profound impact on my life when I read them more than a decade ago, and they still remain my most common reading recommendations. They both introduce us to societies with restricted freedoms, and they both demand your attention, your time, your thoughts. This book is no different.
It presents a society where women have a very different life than the one we currently have. They no longer learn to read and have basically no rights. It raises many significant questions about the role of women in society, and introduces the idea of different freedoms – freedom to and freedom from – which is such a relevant discussion to have in this day and age.
This is a book worth reading. Not because it has plot twists or entertaining action sequences, but because it asks questions by merely existing. It left me thinking about it long after I finished reading, and that is a powerful thing.
There is a TV show based on this coming up on Hulu, and I know I will be watching. I hope it reaches more people than the book, and I hope it sparks some serious debates about the ideas it presents. I will be a part of them.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
4 hearts out of 5.