I learned about Unwind from a coworker whose son was reading it for school. Apparently there was some controversy among the parents. Having just finished Don Quixote I figured this would be great light reading to bridge the gap before vacation. While easy to read, this definitely wasn't exactly the light reading I had expected.

Unwind is set in a dystopian future in which America has fought its second civil war. Only this time, the fighting was over abortion. The war eventually ended with the signing of the Bill of Life. According to this document all life was protected from conception to the age of 13. From 13 to 18 a parent could choose to retroactively unwind their children. Unwind follows the story of 3 children who are set to be Unwound.

Unwind is full of interesting ideas and deals with the difficult subject of abortion with subtlety. However, the writing itself is just mediocre. It is worth reading if you want to start a discussion on abortion with a teen, but probably not otherwise.

In fact, the most interesting thing for me in regards to Unwind was finding the parallels between it and Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal (an essay in which Swift satirically encourages the Irish to eat their children in order to alleviate poverty). I would say more here, but I don't want to spoil anything if you are interested in reading Unwind. Feel free to check out the last 2 paragraphs of my database entry for the details, though.

What suprised me the most, however, was that this would be picked for school reading. What do you think - is this appropriate high school reading?

P.S. I wrote this on my iPhone so please forgive any typos or weird formatting.


Christy on 05/26/2010 8:01 p.m.

What a weird premise! Without having read the book, I couldn't say whether it was appropriate. However, I would hope that whoever is choosing the curriculum would make sure that the subject of the book isn't the only consideration, but also the quality of the writing.

Scott on 05/27/2010 10:30 a.m.

I agree - there are so many modern young adult books that are both better and not controversial that there's really no reason to choose this for the classroom.

Scott on 04/25/2012 7:29 a.m.

Hi Liz,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I definitely agree that we should ensure that students get the opportunity to read and discuss difficult or controversial issues. But, like you stated, this is probably a book more suited for 16+ year old readers. However, my biggest problem with reading this book in school is simply the fact that I don't think it's very good.

If you read the full database entry I linked above you can see some of the reasons I didn't enjoy it. You'll also notice that I tagged it as reading age of 16! Still, if someone is looking for an avenue to discuss the pro-life, pro-choice debate, this is a good book for that. However, if you are looking to have students read great books (with or without controversy), I think there are better works available. Thanks again for stopping by!

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