Saturday, March 14, 2020

The tears you couldn't waste time crying before

The SanctuCare women went over and welcomed them and said, "You're her now, it's all right," and the Gilead women started to cry. At the time I thought, Why cry, you should be happy, you got out. But after all that's happened to me since that day, I understand why. You hold it in, whatever it is, until you can make it through the worst part. Then, once you're safe, you can cry all the tears you couldn't waste time crying before.
Last week I read The Testaments, Margaret Atwood's sequel to The Handmaid's Tale. It's a good book.

I had little interest in it in the lead up to publication — I was dytopiaed out, having finished watching the related TV series. But I was curious how Atwood would treat a sequel — in what timeframe and through which characters would she continue her story?

On publication day, a copy made its way into my house (a gift), and while I wasn't ready to read it yet, I read a review. I learned that this was Aunt Lydia's story. And then I read an excerpt, and thought twice before setting it aside.

I don't need to tell you to read this novel. You will or you won't. You know that it can't live up to its predecessor. You know that you can't come to this novel cold — you already know too much.

You know that, no matter what Atwood wrote, we won't know how the story ends until it ends. You know. The real story happening around us.

The Testaments is not a great work of Literature. It is not deeply philosophical. My daughter had The Handmaid's Tale as assigned reading last summer (going into grade 11), and I will encourage her to read the follow-up. It's a thriller with great characters (some greater than others). And it's important for other reasons.

Unlike the television show, it doesn't make you want to slit your wrists. It shows a way out.

It's also Atwood taking back her story, her characters, and having the final word, to say what she wants to say. Queen!


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