sophiacriesoverabook

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est. january 10, 2k21
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"Unwind" by Neal Shusterman Book Review

January 19, 2021

Pro-life or pro-choice? Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter? Republican or Democrat? The book Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and the following books in the series are always asking the difficult questions that challenge your morals within the fictional future taking place while also being perfectly applicable to our world today. It is an extraordinary book that everyone should read at least once if they ever want to have an existential crisis but in a good way.   
Unwind takes place in a dystopian United States where a medical procedure called unwinding is performed on troubled or unwanted teens. After the war between the pro-life and pro-choice communities ended a compromise emerged: Children were untouchable after conception until they reached the age of thirteen. From then until their eighteenth birthday, parents could sign an unwind order. When somebody is unwound, every single part of their body can be used in organ transplants, from their brain to their toes. It is a painless procedure technically leaving the patient alive afterward, just in a divided state. The world has adopted unwinding as part of their daily lives, though there is still controversy, especially among teens, the ones laying on the operating table. 
This book follows three unwinds from different backgrounds who face the fear of unwinding and the unsettling support of society virtually taking their lives once they are already alive. There’s Connor Lassiter, too much of a handful for his parents to deal with, especially compared to his superstar little brother. There’s Levi Calder, a religious tithe who has been raised to believe that his unwinding is a gift to God but still holds secret doubts in the back of his mind, and Risa Ward, an inhabitant of a state home who is viewed as a budget cut instead of a human being. They have all gone AWOL from their unwinding and thanks to some very lucky timing, and some planning on fate and destiny’s parts, they meet and will work together to survive and change the future, all the while making us readers wonder what life truly means. In a life or death situation, one boy asks, "What hap­pens to your soul when you get unwound?" a truly unsettling question. 
This book seamlessly blends many points of view, always keeping you on your toes and offering fresh and different perspectives. We see the story unfold from the viewpoint of unwinds themselves, their parents, authority figures, and even strangers on the street, proving that everyone is impacted by unwinding and is a part of the story, main character or not. They all have opinions and feelings about the matter, just like in real life. 
Those teen voices project through the pages as if you are talking to your best friend, yet are enjoyable for ages young and old. People who enjoyed The Hunger Games series, Fahrenheit 451, and other dystopian novels will adore this book. It will have you crying, laughing, and perched on the edge of your seat throughout.
As somebody who is very passionate about social justice and actively participates in the movements of today, this book spoke to me in deep ways, reverberating in my mind and heart long after it was completed. As somebody who was bullied and picked on for a large portion of her life, this book made me feel comforted that other people have those common fears that still plague me at my vulnerable moments. Am I worthy of other people’s love? Will I be accepted? Can I ever just do the right thing? As a teen myself, I can relate to the unwinds who are going through huge changes and making mistakes as they transition into young adulthood. This book shows what could happen if we forget to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, parents and teens alike, and remember that nobody is perfect. Getting in trouble or making reckless decisions are not cause to die, or in this case, be unwound. Life is a learning process and we are all human. Though the characters in this book experience these anxieties and choices in a much different way than we might, they are still very much real and relatable.
Unwind doesn’t actually answer the pro-life vs. pro-choice question, that is for us to decide. Instead, it shows us that we can take matters into our own hands, stand up for what we believe in, use our voices to answer those difficult questions, and make a difference in the world no matter who we are, who we have been, or who we will become.
Neal Shusterman says, “In a perfect world, everything would be either black or white, right or wrong, and everyone would know the difference. But this isn’t a perfect world. The problem is people who think it is.” So, Who will you be?




 

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