The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I had to read this book for my junior honors society and change book and surprisingly found it interesting. This book was outside my comfort zone but the dystopian society built within the book was intriguing and led me to analyze the true meaning behind the text.

It follows main character “Offred” and her journey into this transformed society and their way of life. People are ranked within certain classes which determine what they contribute to society. She struggles reconnecting with her “past” self and reminiscing about her husband and kid. Having to face a new society with strange workings and rules she expresses her feelings with the audience for them to understand what is going on in the world she lives in.

I think I typically enjoy dystopian realms because I feel immersed within the society and the systems portrayed within the book. I’m aware there is also a tv show for this book but the first episode essentially covers the entirety of the novel. I would say Atwood’s idea into creating this book is absolutely astonishing how someone came up with this idea. I would recommend to high schoolers but those sensitive to strong topics (suicide, sexual assault, violence) shouldn’t look into reading this book!

  • -Madison C.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

A Handmaid’s Tale

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. 

the cover of the novel

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.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood

handmaids_tale_coverThe world keeps changing. And it changed.

“Last week they shot a woman, right about here. She was a Martha. She was fumbling in her robe, for her pass, and they thought she was hunting for a bomb. They thought she was a man in disguise. There have been such incidents. Nothing safer than dead, said Rita, angrily.”

When belief was twisted into something that only fulfilled the physical need, there is a group of people that was labeled with the lost of self.

 “They can’t help it, she said, God made them that way but He did not make you that way. He made you different. It’s up to you to set the boundaries. Later you will be thanked.”

Holy, holy, the Ceremony stated.

            “ ‘And Leah said, God hath given me my hire, because I have given my maiden to my husband,’ says the commander.

Serena has begun to cry. I can hear her, behind my back. It isn’t the first time. She always does this, the night of the Ceremony. She’s trying not to make a noise. The smell of her crying spreads over us and we pretend to ignore it.”

Women who have the ability to reproduce—They are the handmaids.

“ ‘He asks, are you happy.’ Says the interpreter. I can imagine it, their curiosity: Are they happy? How can they be happy?

Ofglen says nothing. There is a silence. But sometimes it’s as dangerous not to speak. ‘Yes, we are very happy,’ I murmur.”

Under His Eye, this is how the world should be.

            “But whose fault was it? Aunt Helena says, holding up one plump finger.

Her fault, her fault, her fault, we chant in unison.

Who led them on? Aunt Helena beams, pleased with us.

She did. She did. She did.

Why did God allow such a terrible thing to happen?

Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson. Teach her a lesson.

Crybaby. Crybaby. Crybaby.

We meant it, which is the bad part.

I used to think well of myself. I didn’t then.

What did they do to her? We whispered, from bed to bed.

I don’t know.

Not knowing makes it worse.”

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel that shows the reader a world in the future that is constantly at war. Most of the women lose the ability to reproduce, therefore people capture women who can and send them to train and become handmaids. According to the Bible, the man, the woman, and the handmaid go through the Ceremony to make babies. The author illustrates a world of extreme religious and uncontrolled chemical pollution through the life of a handmaid, Offred.

I recommend this book for students of 8th grade and above, and I want to give this book an 8 out of 10. The main topic of this book is very special, and the language and word choice were used in a way that perfectly set up the mood. Don’t miss it if you are a dystopia fan like me!

-Wenqing Z., 11th grade