When I was in high school, I was subject to the dreaded AP reading list. Unlike most high school students, I was able to choose what books I read from the list. That is how I ended up reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I instantly fell in love with her writing style, and I have been attempting to keep up with her work ever since. When I was given the opportunity to read Atwood’s latest novel The Heart Goes Last, I was ecstatic. I had read the previous three novels centered on Positron, and I found the fourth installment to be as unsettling as the first three.
The Heart Goes Last is set in a near future where America is crippled by the fall of capitalism. People who were once comfortable in the middle class find themselves living in cars. I know many of you may think this is where we currently are as a country, but I assure you, Atwood’s America is scarier and deadlier than our America. What is probably the most unnerving quality to Atwood’s description of her America is that I could see our country heading down the same path very soon.
The story follows Stan and Charmaine, a married couple who lost everything in the financial collapse. At their wit’s end, the couple decides to enter a gated community – a gated community that offers middle class bliss at the exchange of living in a prison every other month. Once in the community, they both find that secrets and lies are common no matter where you live, except in most circumstance, you can leave. In Positron, there is no leaving, except in a body bag.
Atwood has a way with words that I will always admire. She takes the bleak realities of living in a dystopian society and adds sarcasm and wit, making me laugh at the most odd situations. Atwood takes what’s bad in our society and turns it into a sort of cruel joke. She also knows how to hone in on a good plot device, this one being the blue teddy bears Charmaine knits. While I don’t usually find myself reading too much regular fiction, I will always make an exception for Atwood, and I am glad that I did this time because The Heart Goes Last was definitely a riveting read.
Sarah Emily Lelonek has a BA in English Literature from Kent State University. She is currently enrolled at Tiffin University in their Master’s of Education program. She enjoys traveling and gaming while on breaks from working on her novel.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Nan A. Talese. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.