The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood This is, hands down, one of the most frightening books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Although it is set in the near future, one can already see the beginnings of the dominant mentality presented in this book in our own society. What Atwood describes in the end matter is already becoming realized, as far as women's rights regarding their bodies is concerned. Planned Parenthood, birth control, and a woman's right to reproductive health are being attacked by "conservatives" with more and more force today. This book is a warning from the past about the death of our future. The novel is set in the first-person narrative of an unnamed woman who holds the position of Handmaid in a near future society known as the Republic of Gilead, in which a fundamentalist religious society has taken control of the formerly United States. Part of the horror of the novel is discovering exactly what this society's power structures are and the different, but limited, roles women have to play. The narrator describes both her current situation and her past, which is terrifyingly close to current American society. Part of the wonder of the novel is discovery, so the plot summary must end here. I will say that it is absolutely necessary to read the end matter, or the appendices. For all of it's terror, the novel is beautiful as well, and there is a pervasive feeling of lightness, of hope throughout. All of Atwood's novels that I have read have this quality, but it is nowhere more apparent than here. You don't have to be a "feminist" or even a woman to read and be terrified by this book. It is a book that everyone needs to read, so that we can recognize the trends that produce this near-future dystopia and stop them before it becomes to late.