The third season of The Handmaid’s Tale came to an end on August 14th and I am still in shock - maybe you are too. The television series was adapted from Margaret Atwood’s novel also named “The Handmaid’s Tale.” When it was first published in 1985, the novel was dystopian - I say “was” because a lot of what was discussed in the book is becoming a reality today. The book paints a world where women had little to no rights and the television series also does a great job of bringing the plot to life.
I consider myself a feminist, so watching and reading “The Handmaid’s Tale” was a bit infuriating for me. I also consider it necessary to read books that explore how women are marginalised or may become marginalised. If you are craving your next fix in place of The Handmaid’s Tale, then these three novels should satisfy your cravings until Hulu releases the final season of the show in 2020.
Vox by Christina Dalcher
Vox is a dystopian novel set in a future America and explores what would happen if fundamentalist and right-wing radicals oversaw the running of the country. We meet Dr Jean McClellan who, along with other millions of American women, did not make it out of America in time, or just did not think that things would get “so bad”. These women are not allowed to have jobs, access to their finances, travel without their husbands, leave the country, read or even speak too much.
Every female over the age of six is given a bracelet that tracks the number of words they speak per day. They are not allowed to go over 100 words daily and if they do, they are punished by electric shocked done through the same bracelet. Dr McClellan, with the help of other women, hatches a plan to overthrow the government. We hope the plan succeeds.
I read this book in one sitting, mainly because the premise is so interesting. For the entire time I kept wondering if I would be able to speak 100 words a day - answer: no. What I love about the book is that it really shows a world where women are marginalised but even with these restrictions and rules in place, they still have the courage to fight and reclaim their power.
If you loved The Handmaid’s Tale this book will get your heart racing and your blood boiling.
The Farm by Joanne Ramos
Set on the sprawling, well-manicured grounds of the Hudson Valley, The Farm is sold as a retreat for women who will be given daily massages, customised fitness plans, chef-prepared organic meals, and the best part - these women get paid big money just to be there. Sounds like the perfect getaway, right? Wrong! For nine months these women belong to The Farm, their every move is tracked and monitored as they have signed a contract that says they will produce the perfect baby for The Farm’s waiting list of super wealthy clients.
The Farm is told from the perspective of four women, one of whom is Jane, a young struggling Filipino single mom who, with this new gig, will be able to give her daughter the future she never had. There is Evelyn who is the most sought after Wet Nurse for women on the Upper East Side so much so, she’s got a waiting list and end up becoming a “scout” for the Farm. Mae is the brains behind The Farm - she is dedicated, smart, driven and intends to take The Farm to the next level, no matter what. Last there is Reagan - a wild idealist. Reagan is seen as a premium host because she is white with university education. Reagan decided to become a host to “help” women who can’t carry their own children.
I found The Farm surprisingly good and a bit timely because a lot more women are being surrogates or choosing surrogacy. Joanne Ramos did a solid job with this debut novel; she managed to shed light on racism, motherhood, surrogacy, immigration, wealth and privilege.
All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership by Darcy Lockman
“….women who work outside of the home shoulder 65 percent of child care responsibilities and their male partners 35 per cent. Those percentages have held steady since the year 2000. In the last twenty years, that figure has not budged...”
It is the year 2019 and women are still shouldering 65% childcare responsibilities. No, this is not fiction. All the Rage is Darcy Lockman’s research into the division of labour within homes and how working, married women are still doing the bulk of housework and childcare. While reading this research I was enraged a lot of the time on behalf of the women who had to do the heavy lifting at work then come home and do even more in order to ensure the household and children are taken care of.
It seems, it doesn’t matter how well a partner she chooses, women are usually left with the full-time job of working outside the home and taking care of the home and the children. In a 2018 report, the United Nations estimated that women average 2.6 times the amount of housework and childcare that men do... If you are going to have children, take those figures into consideration.
Darcy Lockman brought to light some new information, but for the most part she confirmed what we see in society on a daily basis. I really wish those figures weren’t so; however, if you are planning for motherhood in the future, please be sure to give this book a read.
Cindy Allman is a Caribbean Girl Reading the World. A Jamaican living in Trinidad & Tobago, she is a top Goodreads reviewer and hopes to inspire you with her passion for books. Follow her at www.bookofcinz.com or @bookofcinz on Twitter and Instagram