January 2023: “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

“The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood is a dystopian novel that presents a chilling vision of a totalitarian society where women’s rights and individual freedoms have been brutally stripped away. Set in the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, the book follows the journey of Offred, a handmaid assigned to bear children for the ruling elite. 

This book is exceptionally well-written, in a compelling and engaging way. It takes elements from society that we often ignore or forget about and incorporates them into an unforgettable story that will stick with you for a long time. While seemingly removed from modern society and unbelievable at times, Margaret Atwood has woven together many aspects of female oppression into one story. Indeed, she once wrote about this book that she took inspiration directly from many real-world examples in history, such as the Salem witch trials, the historic illegality of homosexuality throughout the world up until very recent times, dress codes imposed upon women in many countries, and oppressive reproductive policies that exist even today. 

We do caution that we do not recommend this book to GEMs below age 13 due to the mature nature of some of the language and themes. That said, for GEMs 13 and older, we commend this book as a searing and unforgettable discussion of real-world issues gone too far. Though it was (almost unbelievably) published in 1985, it resonates loudly today, as the issues have not been resolved and remain in the forefront of society today.

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