Latest Review

The Handmaid's Tale

Author: Margaret Atwood

Category: Adult

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Pages: 339 Pages

Format: Paperback

Published: 1985

Book rating: 10/10

Mommy readability rating: 7/10 


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Summary: In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive. At once a scathing satire, an ominous warning, and a tour de force of narrative suspense, The Handmaid’s Tale is a modern classic.


Review: I know I’m a bit late to the party on this one, it having been around precisely for the entirety of my life and my never having read it. However, in preparation for reading Atwood’s new book, The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, I knew I needed to read this one first. And I am glad I gave myself enough time to take a break from the world of Gilead before having to return for my book club read next month. I have never read such a terrifying story that was written so beautifully. And I think the terrifying nature of the story is all the stronger in light of today’s current events. The book is frightening for its absolute possibility. If I had read this a decade ago, I would have found it troubling, but still an imagined impossibility. Today, I’m not sure. Atwood created a world so real that the reader finds themselves trapped in her setting, connected to the characters from the very first scene, and worried for their outcome. And the foundation of that story is writing that is simply exquisite. I only wish that I had read this book earlier so that I could have read it multiple times by now. There is so much to explore in this book and my future readings will consist of a complete savoring of Atwood’s language and imagery. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to explore the beauty of language. I know that there is now a show based on this novel (and by all accounts, the first season follows the book and finishes where it finishes, while the later seasons take on new stories set in Gilead), however I have no desire to watch it. The images and stories The Handmaid’s Tale left in my mind were vividly sufficient. For now, I am trying to recover and view the world in a positive, hopeful light, before returning to Gilead.


Mommy Readability Rating: This book is beautifully written and it is easy to get completely absorbed in Atwood’s descriptions. This is, however, a book to read just little bits at a time. The subject matter is so overwhelming that I needed constant breaks. And, being a mother and having gone through pregnancy and birth, there are many things within this book that struck my emotional core. Fair warning, this is a tough one, but a definite must-read.


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