The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a classic book often assigned in many English classes. But do not automatically label the book as a boring old classic your teacher shoves in your face. Released in 1985, this novel is a futuristic dystopian storyline, unlike many stories assigned in most classes.
The novel takes place in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian state that oppresses women and glorifies men. The Republic of Gilead replaced the United States for reasons including falling birth rates. The story follows Offred, a current handmaid. In Gilead, the purpose of a handmaid is simply to give birth. But handmaid’s only mate with their specific commanders, who the handmaid’s change their names to represent. For example, Offred is the handmaid of Fred, since she is of Fred. The majority of the novel follows Offred, experiencing sexist encounters with others. Since, like many others, I knew what it was like to live in a normal country before Gilead took over.
Now that you know the simple backstory, I will not spoil any more of the book. But, the themes discussed in the novel are what sets it apart from most books. We get to see strong female power, resisting a hierarchical society that looks down upon women. Also sending the important message that oppression and restriction of groups will never succeed since resistance will always occur.
As the plot follows Offred, the novel has many nail-biting moments that make you feel as if you are on the edge of your seat. This book also involves some action scenes and violence, which puts a nice twist on novels that are simply all dialogue. Additionally, The Handmaid’s Tale includes a little bit of romance at the same.
Overall, I would recommend reading this novel. For all the book worms out there, it contains action and stresses political topics while revolving around a strong female lead.