The first thing I’ll tell you about this book is that I almost gave up on it. I’m glad I didn’t.
UNWIND by Neal Shusterman is a book set in a future where abortion is no longer legal. A second civil war was fought over it and the end result was a compromise calling unwinding. It means that every child must be born, but any time between the ages of 13 and 17, should a parent decide that they don’t want the child, they can have him or her unwound, a process that takes 100% of the child’s parts and distributes them to those who need them. Ears, bits of brain, fingers, lungs, everything. In that way, they claim, the child does not die, it lives on only in another form. The story itself follows three particular unwinds and their journeys.
Like I said, I nearly gave up on this book. It was the narrative structure. Shusterman opted to use third person limited and then jump from character to character in different chapters, often moving even beyond the three core characters. At first, I couldn’t stand it. It kept me from fulling engaging with the story or the characters until I was more than half-way through. And, to be honest, I’m still not sure it was the best way to tell the story. But in the end, that doesn’t matter, because this story made a profound statement that I won’t soon forget.
Shusterman doesn’t proselytize or lecture. He presents the world as he sees it in all its brutal glory. I was so affected by the scene of an actual unwinding that I had to put the book down.
I highly recommend this book. If you’re like me and find yourself having difficulty with the first half of the book, do yourself the favor of finishing. I promise it will be worth it.