Monday, July 26, 2010

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

It's been a long time since a book has made me physically cringe and has truly horrified me. I don't get disturbed easily, I don't get creeped out easily...and it's not that this book creeped me out, but it was truly horrifying to me. Once scene in particular that will stick with me for a long time. Unwind is a YA dystopian novel written by Neal Shusterman that tackles the subject of abortion and organ harvesting. After a war has been fought over abortion, it's been decided by the US government that a woman no longer has the freedom to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy. Abortion is made illegal. In it's place, three rules are put into action: 1. A child can be left on a doorstep and it is then the person who finds that child's responsibility to care for it. However, if the mother is caught leaving the child on a doorstep, she must take the child and be responsible for it. 2. At a certain age, a child can be "unwound". Basically, if a parent does not want there child any longer or if they are a ward of the state, the child is quite literally taken apart while conscious and still alive and all of it's organs, tissues, blood, etc are used as donor parts. 3. A child may also be unwound as a tithe...think of it as payment to the church or a tax write off. In the book, we follow three main characters. A young boy raised as a tithe, a young boy who's family no longer wants him, and a girl who is a ward of the state that can no longer care for her. There's much more to the plot...much much more, but it's best left to be discovered by the reader. What I will share with you is that late in the book, there is a scene that shows the unwinding process and I literally caught myself holding my breath, tears forming at my eyes. This book asks questions that are important and need to be asked now. I don't mean to get overly political on my blog, but there are things that need to be talked about...when the government takes away the right of a woman to choose what happens to her body and whether or not she chooses to continue a pregnancy, what is put in it's place? I'm not suggesting that the government would actually turn to harvesting teenagers in farms to deal with overpopulation, but where does that leave us? And what kind of life does that leave for children that are brought into the world who are never wanted? I'm crossing dangerous territory here, I understand that...I'm not by any means excusing irresponsible actions of adults, but when the choice is taken away from a woman it leads to a child that also never has any choices available to them so often. I don't know what Neal Shusterman's intentions were in writing this book.....but he brings up some very interesting topics. Topics of responsibility, topics of governmental control, topics of organ and tissue harvesting, abortion, parental responsibility, our moral responsibility as a society. And he does it all in a book that is so wonderfully written. I really enjoyed this first read by Shusterman and can't wait to read more of his stuff.

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