The Handmaid’s Tale

by Margaret Atwood


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Short Summary
In this masterpiece of postapocalyptic fiction, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a totalitarian religious regime that enslaves and controls all women.

Good For:
Modern Dystopic Classic, Riveting Suspense, Scathing Satire, Unforgettable Narrative Voice Provocative Conversations About Feminism and Misogyny, Bestseller That Inspired the TV Series

Topics and Themes:
Theocracy, Surrogacy, Rape, Slavery, Torture and Execution, Motherhood

This title contains mature language and subject matter that may not be appropriate for every student. The characters in this book deal with tough issues and the editors of BookBeat hope that their stories will help you gain a better understanding and tolerance of others.

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Set in the near future, this powerful novel describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead─a monolithic theocracy that has reacted to social unrest by reverting to the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, even going beyond what the Puritans practiced, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

The story is told through the eyes of Offred, an unfortunate Handmaid in the home of the Commander and his wife. She is allowed out once a day to the food market, she is not permitted to read, and she is hoping the Commander makes her pregnant, because she is only valued if her ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she was an independent woman, with a job of her own, a husband, and a child. But all of that is gone now...everything has changed.

Slowly, she reveals to the reader the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade and her own growing conviction that she must somehow resist and escape.
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Product Details

    • Grades: 10 - 12
    • Ages: 15 - and up
  • Product Type: Book
  • Page Count: 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 5 1/4" x 7 15/16" x 0 3/4"
  • Language: English
  • ISBN 13: 978-0-385-49081-8