Parent reviews for The Handmaid's Tale

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Common Sense says

age 16+

Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 16+

Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 14+

Based on 15 reviews

age 16+

Blessed Be!

As an English teacher who has taught this book for somewhere around 14 years, I can tell you that this book has a profound impact on students and succeeds in teaching students many literary skills and helps them to connect literary fiction with relevant, real-world current and historical events. It's a wonderful example of first-person point of view and can help to initiate a discussion about unreliable narrators. The prose is poetic yet matter-of-fact, and it demonstrates that people are complicated and capable of both good and evil acts depending on the particular situation. For those reviews that have mentioned being unsatisfied with the ending, I think they're missing the point. It is left purposely ambiguous because Offred herself doesn't know how it will end when she steps into the van. She doesn't really know whom she can trust, and since we are seeing everything through her eyes, the readers also don't know; however, if you read the Historical Notes at the end (and yes, these are part of the novel), what becomes evident is that Offred did, indeed, get away at some point as the academics in the far future refer to her audio tapes and the ultimate defeat of Gilead. The end of 1984 is similar in that we don't know what happens to Winston, but on closer inspection, we see that the Newspeak dictionary is written in past tense, indicating that the totalitarian regime eventually ended. Atwood was inspired to write the book partly based on her experience reading dystopian works like 1984 and Brave New World, novels which hardly feature women, and when they do, they are treated like "sexual automatons." She wanted to investigate the question of "What if." In this case, she wonders what if a dystopia were centered around women? What would that look like? She makes up nothing that hasn't happened before at one point in history. Handmaid is speculative fiction that teaches readers to think, to wonder, and definitely to ask what if.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
1 person found this helpful.
age 13+

READ IT!!

I am 21 years old. I read this book when I was 13. I found it eye opening and it changed my perspective of current society. As a literary enthusiast, I strongly recommend that everyone over the age of 13 should read this book. Whist enthralling and gripping, it is also informative and a work of wonder. It depicts the life of Offred, a handmaid in a dystopian civilisation. Whilst it does discuss themes of sex and violence, these are important life messages for adolescents, and as having read many other book with these themes at that age, I was not surprised to encounter them. This book has fabulous feminist implications, and teaches the importance of consent, and the horrors of prostitution. There is minimal foul language, apart from the occasional use of f**k. There is some smoking, however, Offred is overall a great role model, and who doesn’t have a sneaky cigarette sometimes? As a student of high merit I enjoyed this book immensely and would advise anyone over 13 to read it.
age 18+

Leaves an impression

We are in buffalo ny. My 16 year old son in an ap English course has informed me he is to read this book. I educate my boy at home in many issues. The world is changing and I want me kid adaptable meaning he should be well versed in many opinions in this world to make his own opinions. I do not think this book keeps anyone objective enough. It subjects you to fear sex and government supremacy. Yes it’s fictional but why this book at such a questionable time we live in. I do not write reviews but took the time for this. My son is mature and will be ok I suppose but I would be doing much more If my daughter was required to read this. She is 14 now. Why not life of pi or something with a better impression. Reminds of the time I had to read 1984 or brave new world but with a much more disturbing experience. Why not true books with real world application like aviator or tucker or Tesla or. Prisoners of hope. Please prepare your child for this book if you have not read it. Buffalo ny mother in 50s
age 15+

Important, Relevant, and Haunting

I first read this novel in my grade 11 English class, and it has stuck with me ever since. While over 30 years old, the story still is relevant today, and brings with it a great discussion of "Do you think this could happen in our future?" I remember classmates saying they thought it was far-fetched, when I thought the opposite to be true. I 100% believe the future Atwood wrote in this novel could be our future, and in many ways it is our present. That is why I find it so haunting. This is an incredibly important story for our youths to read, and while it has some very disturbing scenes, and sexual content, that's the POINT. It is supposed to be jarring, and brutal, and uncomfortable. It is supposed to make the reader think about thing we may not want our kids to think about, but is important that they do.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 18+

HANDMAIDS TALE

I was disappointed in the book. It missed alot out and I was and at the end of the book it left u in the dark the tv series is much better.
age 16+

I loved it BUT.....

Fantastic narrative. The insights are amazing. I was riveted. In a scary way, it was relatable. Read it in a day. BUT soooooo disappointed with the non ending. I understand an open ending for continuation, this was just such a let down after how amazing the story was.

This title has:

Great messages
age 16+

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
age 15+

One of the most important dystopian novels ever written

Let me begin by stating that I would not recommend this novel for younger adolescents, due to the rather blunt treatment of sex and violence in its dystopian setting. Parents should, of course, use their discretion. If in doubt, please read it first, and determine for yourselves the age you feel is appropriate. With that clarified, I am confident that most parents and teachers would agree that Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" is an extraordinary work of fiction. In summary, the novel tells of a near-future dystopian America, in which a militaristic dictatorship, with a distinctly Christian flavor, has seized control. Under this new regime, a harsh return to old values has meant that women no longer have access to any kind of financial or sexual autonomy, and that their primary (nearly sole) societal value rests in their ability to give birth. The main character, through her first-person chronicle, reveals ever more details of this society's structure, and how it came to be, as the story moves forward. Atwood's societal insights are very astute, and frightening, making it in my judgment a must-read for older aldolescents, and, of course, for adults who have not discovered it yet.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages