Book Reviews

Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

First published in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale is an oldie but a goodie. For the first five chapters, I was convinced that I wasn’t going to like it. However, slowly but surely, I fell in love with this one-of-a-kind dystopian tale in which young women with “viable ovaries” have become the servants of certain elite couples. The sole purpose of these “handmaids” is to procreate with their “commanders.”

Atwood’s writing is often poetic, which makes perfect sense because she is a writer of poetry. While I enjoy poetry, some of the more lengthy descriptive parts made me feel like I had to think a bit too hard to understand exactly what was going on. For example:

“But if you happen to be a man, sometime in the future, and you’ve made it this far, please remember: you will never be subject to the temptation or feeling you must forgive, a man, as a woman. It’s difficult to resist, believe me. But remember that forgiveness too is a power. To beg for it is a power, and to withhold it is a power, perhaps the greatest.”

Hmm. Okay. These words are put together beautifully, but I found myself rereading parts like this because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing something. Something that was intended to provide me with a deeper understanding of what was going on.

I like the way flashbacks are scattered throughout the story. They provide insight into what the MC’s life was like before she became a handmaid. We get to see snippets of the loved ones she no longer has access to, people who she may or may not ever see again. People who may even be dead. Overall, I felt that these flashbacks were well-placed, but a few times it wasn’t immediately clear whether Atwood was describing past or present events.

Due to the incomprehensible new society that has risen from a war-torn United States (which was difficult for me to swallow at first) and an abundance of descriptive language, I must admit that it took me about two weeks to get past page 25 because I kept falling asleep. However, if you decide to read this book and find yourself bored like I was with the beginning, do yourself a favor and stick with it, because it is amazing. It will upset, disgust and confuse you, and it might even break your heart. But above all, it will make you think.

I went from thinking I would rate this book no more than 3 stars to feeling that I could confidently give it a 4 1/2-star rating by the time I started the last chapter. But then the ending (or what I THOUGHT was the ending) made me angry! So I was prepared to bump my rating down to 4 because I was sick to my stomach with the open ending. Then I read the REAL ending (which I almost skipped)…the Historical Notes. That’s when everything really clicked for me. Be sure to read the Historical Notes!

Favorite Quote:

“All historians know, the past is a great darkness, and filled with echoes. Voices may reach us from it; but what they say to us is imbued with the obscurity of the matrix out of which they come; and, try as we may, we cannot always decipher them precisely in the clearer light of our own day.”

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Book Reviews

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room by Emma Donoghue is disturbing yet brilliant. Inspired by countless cases of children born to mothers in captivity, this book is told from the perspective of five-year-old Jack, who has lived in “Room” his entire life. But Jack isn’t alone. He lives in Room with Ma, who was kidnapped as a teen and has been held in isolation for years. It was mind boggling to imagine being confined to a room (really a backyard shed) that measures 11X11 feet.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked that the story is told from Jack’s point of view. But within a few chapters, I grew to love the innocent, matter-of-fact way in which he sees things. I also found it intriguing to imagine the amount of information a child would be able to soak in without outside influences or distractions and if constantly communicated with. Ma spends so much time telling Jack about things (anything and everything), so he is extremely mature for his age. Besides constantly talking to him, Ma also does her best to involve Jack in various activities. For example, they measure things, play games, exercise and read (rotating between the handful of books provided by “Old Nick”).

Approximately half of the book takes place in Room, so some of the scenes felt a bit redundant. However, I like to think that Donoghue purposely drew out the amount of time Jack and Ma spent in captivity together to stress how mind-numbing it would be for someone to be held prisoner. Maybe this wasn’t her intent, but after thinking about it that way, the repetitive scenes held new meaning for me. My heart ached a little bit more just imagining what it would be like. Day after day after day.

I’m not sure if what I’m about to say would be considered a spoiler, but if you really dislike spoilers, skip the rest of this paragraph. When Jack and Ma finally get out of Room, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A trial perhaps? Ma and Jack having to face Old Nick in court? Well, it turns out that the rest of the story is more about how Jack copes with being away from the only thing he’s ever known: Room. And let’s not forget about Ma. She has a lot of coping to do as well. Can you imagine finally being free after a decade of captivity? And can you imagine living the rest of your life with the child of your captor? You love the child, of course, but would he be a constant reminder of the time you spent locked away from the world?

If you enjoy true crime or fictional books that are inspired by horrific real-life events, then you must read this one.

AMAZON

GOODREADS

Don't Call Me Kit Kat

Cover Reveal: Don’t Call Me Kit Kat

DOntCallMeKitKat

Available May 15

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

Description:

Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters.

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts.

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school.

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother.

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames.

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path?

And would she even want to if she could?

Add it on Goodreads.