“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
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…
What really struck me in this book was the truth that radiated from the pages. There were so many sentences that just struck me.
Like this one:
“Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
This story takes place in a future so close to ours that our main character still remembers a life, her life before everything went wrong. Image your life where everything is taken from you. Your money, your rights, your freedom, your body. That’s what this story is about and it’s painfully believable.
Our world is changing. You only have to turn on the tv or radio or read the papers to notice this change. The world my children will inherit won’t be the same one I got from my parents.
“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”
There were many moments in this book where I saw my own reflection in the pages. When she’s attending the birth she says:
“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”
And ow my god, yes. This. This right here. It just tore at my heart because it’s so perfectly 100% me. Sometimes, writing is so on point that it hurts.
I think everyone will take something different from this book. You will mirror your own self to these characters. Maybe the male characters will say something that someone once said to you. (Yup. There were several sentences that sounded familiar.) Or they will share their thoughts or feelings and you’ll feel understood.
In the end, I think this is an important book and I’m glad that I read it. I felt a bit let down by the end (I just don’t like that sort of endings so I know that it’s just me) but I’m sure it’ll stay on my mind.
Have you read The Handmaid’s Tale?
Did you like it?