Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind Trilogy #1
Published November 2007 by Simon & Schuster
335 pages
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Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian
Series: 1. Unwind* 2. Unwholly
Source: Purchased
Rating: LOVED IT

Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child “unwound,” whereby all of the child’s organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn’t technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive. (Source: Goodreads)

Unwind was withdrawn from the approved curriculum at the Montgomery County, KY High School in 2009. It did remain in the high school library. A group of parents complained about 5 novels that included foul language, sex, child abuse, suicide and drug abuse that they felt was unsuited for co-ed classroom discussion. They also felt that it lacked an intellectual challenge and rigor they needed in college prep classes. (Source: ALA)

I respect the local school district’s right to remove a book from their curriculum. Unfortunately, I don’t necessarily agree on their reasoning. True Unwind isn’t a rigorous read, but it is impactful. This was my first Shusterman read and it won’t be my last. I was blown away at the discussion possibilities. My teacher mind was spinning.

Donors, Cloning, and Medical Ethics. Teens 13 to 18 are mostly unwilling donors. Stusterman doesn’t only tell us their story, but we walk in the shoes of a few of the recipients. They are grateful, but forever changed. These changes aren’t always welcomed. One even helps an AWOL Unwound get away. The question is floating out there, “Should we even be doing this?”

Abortion and Orphans. Abortion is replaced with a disturbing method of adoption.

Fundamentalism. Some people tithe their children in the name of their church to be unwound for god. It creates such a desperation that it is fought with an equal degree of fanaticism.

Being a Teen. Troubled teens that give their parents too much grief are signed over to be unwound. You will travel deep into the world through the eyes of the to-be-unwound and the parents. The mind of adolescent. What motivates them and their lack of sense of mortality? This touched me the most, because I work with troubled teens. Often they are too quickly judged and given up on. I’ve seen aspects of all the kids in the book. I loved watching their qualities that were viewed as their weakness become their strength. Going AWOL gives them a second chance and they do incredible things.

Who would we have left, if we Unwound every disagreeable teen?

9 responses to “Unwind by Neal Shusterman

  1. Wow, this one sounds soo good. I also admit that you have to respect a school’s right to remove something from curriculum…but it’s still not always the right choice. I bet students LOVED discussing this book! Sad that it may have been replaced with something less – shall we say – intriguing to modern students…

  2. Yay you loved Unwind! I was blown away by this one too, and still need to read the sequel. The audiobook is really chilling. And you are so right with your last question! Awesome review, Amy.

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