Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood book cover and review
I've been wanting to read The Handmaid's Tale for so long. I finally picked it up and am so glad that I did.

The Handmaid's Tale deserves all the hype. Not only is it a compelling look at a very twisted future society, but it is also well written with vivid descriptions and sophisticated use of language. And it isn't bloated like most popular young adult dystopian stories seem to be.

I won't say much about the plot since I think most people know. The basic premise is the population is decreasing because most women can't have babies. So if you can, you become a Handmaid, which basically means you are assigned to some man so that you can become impregnated. While handmaids are revered and protected, they are very oppressed.

Do educators use this book in the classroom? I just think there is so much to discuss here. I don't know of any classrooms that read this.

I'm looking forward to watching the series now, although I'm sure I'll be disappointed. And I need to read the second book, The Testaments. If you are at all interested in dystopian stories, don't miss this one.

Published by McClelland and Stewart, 1985
eBook obtained from the library
320 pages

Rating: 5/5

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Book Review: Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters by Jennifer Chiaverini

I enjoyed Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters, an account of Mary Todd Lincoln's later years. It was a perfect companion to Courting Mr. Lincoln, which I read last year.

Elizabeth, Mary's oldest sister, has been informed that Mary has been institutionalized because she has attempted suicide. Her witnessing the assassination of her husband and then the death of her son just a few short years later has taken its toll. Elizabeth and most of Mary's other siblings have been estranged from Mary for years, but Elizabeth wants to help. But Mary won't answer any letters from any of her siblings. They are assured by Mary's oldest and only remaining son that she is being well taken care of.

We get varying perspectives, and therefore opinions, of what they should do about Mary from other siblings, Francis, Emilie, and Ann. They agree they must overcome their differences to help, but they don't agree on what is best.

As the current story is told, we get flashbacks all the way to Mary's childhood, the death of her mother, her education, the courtship, her political life, the Civil War, and of course, the assassination.

All in all, we get a detailed picture of Mary's life. But is she insane? Did she need to be institutionalized?

As I mentioned, Courting Mr. Lincoln did a great job of describing a mostly missing piece of the history of Abraham Lincoln, and Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters did overlap in that area a bit. But I have become somewhat enamored with the Lincolns, and really enjoyed these perspectives. What a fascinating and tragic life Mary Todd Lincoln had.

If you are interested in this piece of history, I highly recommend Chiaverini's account of Mrs. Lincoln's Sisters.

Published by William Morrow, June 2, 2020
eARC obtained from NetGalley
352 pages

Rating: 4/5

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