I don’t know where to start with this book. I initially got it because of Jenn Im who included this in her books to read video. She said that it was something I HAD to read.
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 definitely have mixed feelings about this book. A part of me completely hates it and a part of me wishes I understood it a bit better. When I have moments like these, I go search Google for other people’s review about it. Here’s my fave one from Goodreads.
The Handmaid’s Tale is told in first person by a woman who’s lived in our present day (more or less), as well as in this dark fundamentalist Tomorrowland. She’s gone from wearing flip-flops and sundresses to a full-body religious habit, color-coded red to match her subservient role. She was married once, had a child. Now she’s another’s property, one of the handmaids sent from one man’s house to another. The hope is that she will become pregnant when a prominent man’s wife cannot. Her life has been flipped and made forfeit. She lives in fear and depression and abuse. This is meant to make me unnerved, and it does.
There’s a question I have that never gets answered, not properly at least. How did this happen so quickly? How did we go from “burning bras” to having every part of our lives regulated? Why did it take Massachusetts decades, centuries, to reject puritanism, but only a few years(?) to reject liberalism?
Rights can erode, but you don’t see it happen on such a large scale and so seamlessly, and not overnight. Nothing happens overnight, especially not governmental takeovers in relatively stable, secular societies, which is the book’s scenario. –Goodreads
When reading books, I really appreciate reading a solid and well-established backstory Every time I read a book that lacks that, I’m instantly on the fence about it. This is exactly what happened to me.
We are thrown into a world where women aren’t valued. They are given roles – some are respectable while some are downright messed up. This kind of world seems possible however it wasn’t clearly explained how this was happened and how it happened all too fast. It’s like someone said this should be the new norm and people just accepted it. It felt lacking – I couldn’t connect with it even if I tried.
I always give books (and series) a chance even if I feel like I can’t connect with it. I did set aside my questions and tried to get absorbed by the book. It did. I felt the sadness, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness of the protagonist. Somewhere along the way, however, she lost me. It was beginning to be quite the ride but then she surrendered to her sexuality and desires and then she lost me. There she was living as a handmaid, the worst way to live in this dystopian novel and she forgot everything once she finally had consensual sex. She was willing to adjust just because she found a little solace.
While reading the reviews and trying to understand this book. The word feminism always came up. I think what transpired in this book is every feminist’s worst nightmare. Scratch that, I think it is every woman’s nightmare. No woman should be allowed to be labeled and treated as a possession rather than an actual human being. However, if this were to happen in real life, it shouldn’t only be a woman’s fight. Every person should stand up and fight for this kind of injustice. Should men also just be reduced to sperm donors, guards, or chauffeurs? I think the word feminism was thrown around hastily when analyzing this book. This dystopia doesn’t just demean women, it demeaned everyone.
Let me warn you, the book is open-ended. I hate these types of endings as it doesn’t give me a proper ending. It leaves the reader (or viewer) to decide what kind of ending they choose to have. And as predicted, I hated that it ended this way. I kept on flipping the pages hoping to read more but I didn’t get that. I was just left there wanting to read about how the protagonist died instead of leaving me hanging there and wanting more. I wanted closure.
Overall, I’m at a loss for this book. I would want to read it again and hopefully then find more meaning in it. I find this book a little too much for me (I guess dystopian books aren’t my thing) and have found zero joy in reading it. There are some good lines taken from the book but as a whole, I just couldn’t relate to it. It doesn’t empower me nor does it teach me anything. If anything, it shows me a possibility – one I believe humans aren’t going to succumb to anytime soon. We are better than that, right?