Dena's Reviews > Unwind

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
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Dec 12, 11


Summary: Lev, Risa, and Connor live in a world where children may be “unwound” at the age of thirteen. In an act that is eerily close to abortion, teens who are no longer wanted have their organs harvested and transplanted into waiting individuals. If a teen can make it to his/her eighteenth birthday, then they are safe from this process. While these three seemingly have little in common, they will join together to escape what society has determined to be their fate.
Personal Reaction: I’m not sure how to approach this book. It is definitely an interesting read, but I’m not sure how I feel about some of its messages. There are so many aspects of society that are addressed: abortion, adoption, organ donation, conflicted parent-child relationships, the concept of tithing, and sacrifice for the sake of science. I have such firm opinions on each of these topics, that at times I felt like Shusterman was invading my space. I can’t foresee a world where parents could actually rid themselves of their child, but I can envision a world where parents can genetically design a child before it is conceived. Shusterman developed characters that draw sympathy from the reader, even Connor, who kind of did need to be given away. But, at the same time, the idea of just tossing away a human is a bit disturbing.
Classroom Extension: Because this novel touches on the idea of abortion, it is highly unlikely that it would ever be adopted by the English Department as a classroom novel. However, if I were to teach this particular work, I would have students research two different eras in history. First, because this novel takes place after the Second World War, I would have students research the causes of the Civil War, which was more than just slavery. Students would then draw comparisons between the causes of American Civil War and the Second Civil War. In an additional assignment, I would have students research the similarities between Harvest Camp and the concentration camps of World War II. One thing that really struck me about the book was Risa being forced to play in a band for the teens who were being sent to be “unwound.” This scene is similar to those found in “Playing for Time,” a screenplay written by Arthur Miller in which young women are forced to play in a camp orchestra for the SS Guards while their fellow prisoners are gassed.

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