Tuesday, April 25, 2017


In 1985 Canadian author Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian fantasy that takes place in the near future after the United States has been taken over by theocratic fundamentalists and turned into a totalitarian regime. Called Gilead, this country is one in which civil and individual rights have disappeared and those opposed are killed.  Fixated on the declining population (caused by pollution) the Gilead powers-that-be aim to raise the birthrate by forcing women to reproduce.

All women in the story are assigned subservient roles. The main character is Offred, a Handmaid who is required to not only dress in a billowing red robe and a huge white hat that hides her face, but also to bear children against her will. Ordered to have sex with a high ranking commander Offred’s safety and future depend on her productivity. She ponders her old life when she was free to live as she wished and wonders how she can escape her servitude.


The book is a powerful page-turner that easily captures the attention of readers and keeps them filled with fear. It is both thought-provoking and illuminating.


There is no secret about the relevancy and popularity of The Handmaid’s Tale. In a changing political environment where women are marching for their rights, the book has found new readers and encouraged re-reading. Libraries cannot keep it on the shelves and hold lists are long. A new television series about The Handmaid’s Tale has debuted. The Monrovia Public Library owns multiple copies of the book.

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