Thursday, May 09, 2019

Schusterman's Unwind: Chapter 11-16

Y'all, they're apparently making a movie out of this book. What the hell.

It looks really terrible. But I do note in this movie, it's not parents selling their kids to be Unwound. It's the "government" coming to confiscate the kids.

I wonder if the part about no abortion/contraception will be in the movie.

Chapter 11

Connor finds a newspaper in some bushes. It was "misthrown" by a paperboy.

In the future, we have paperboys and newspapers printed on actual paper. Good to know.

The three felons read the newspaper eagerly, looking for a story about their escape. Nothing.

“That can’t be right,” says Lev, “I was kidnapped, or . . . uh . . . at least they think I was. That should be in the news.” 
“Lev’s right,” says Risa. “They always have incidents with Unwinds in the news. If we’re not in there, there’s a reason.” 
Connor, who we have already noticed is terrible at thinking ahead, claims it's good news. No pictures in the paper, no way to find them.

Risa claims the lack of story means Lev's family (who are rich, apparently, although I don't see how, what with 10 kids, unless they've been scamming their church, never mind, okay, I get it now) want him back, and are covering up the story to keep his felonious behavior out of the news. Also to shoot Connor and Risa, because...I don't know, just because. Why not just knock them out with the stun gun and then proceed with the unwinding?

Also in this section, both Connor and Risa seem to think that being "murdered" is worse than being Unwound. It's not what they thought before, but okay.

While everyone is arguing, a police car cruises past, as does a school bus, and also Connor hears a baby crying. It's teh Storked kid!

Connor thinks uneasily about the two Storked babies who showed up on his doorstep. Apparently some Dark Secret here, since Connor has only one younger sibling.

In any case, he approaches the Storked infant (which is still crying) and Risa tries to get him to leave. She demands to know if he's crazy.

Then the door to the house open, and the six-year-old who opens it wails, "Oh no! Mom! We've been Storked again!"

 Most people have two emergency modes. Fight and Flight. But Connor always knew he had three: Fight, Flight, and Screw Up Royally. 
It was a dangerous mental short circuit. The same short circuit that made him race back toward armed Juvey-cops to rescue Lev instead of just saving himself. He could feel it kicking in again right now. He could feel his brain starting to fry. “We’ve been storked again,” the fat kid had said. Why did he have to say “again”? Connor might have been all right if he hadn’t said “again.” 
Don’t do it! Connor tells himself. This is not the same baby! But to some deep, unreasoning part of his brain, they’re all the same baby. 

Connor's just a hero, y'all. Trying to save all the babies. (Fat shaming? What fat-shaming?)

The kid's mom shows up, and she's angry and disgusted. As you would be, if you were forced to have kids you didn't want, couldn't afford, and had no time for.

Mom accuses Connor of having left the baby on her doorstep, and threatens to call the police (the cruiser is still there, stopped by the school bus, which is taking forever to load, I guess because we have so many kids in this Future) over to deal with him. At that point, Risa steps up and claims she left the baby there.

Bear in mind Risa is 13. Apparently that's a common thing in this world without contraception or abortion -- 13 year old children having babies.

Mom says to come get the kid, then. (Storking is only legal if you don't get caught.) She also advises Risa that men are no good, and you should never trust them.

Chapter 12

They take the baby and get on the school bus, so that the police officer won't notice them.

The bus is packed full, and other students are carrying babies too. So yeah, apparently in this future children get pregnant and have babies all the time. It's NBD.

(I mean, this is accurate. Here in Arkansas, where our schools don't teach sex ed; where our Evangelical parents tell their kids that abstaining is the only legitimate form of birth control; where access to condoms, never mind other forms of birth control, is limited at best -- well, we have the highest rate of pregnancy among of 12-17 year olds in the nation: 39.5 per a thousand. In Colorado, where sex education and contraception are readily available, it's 7.9 per thousand.)

Luckily, as one of these children tells Risa, the school has a "great daycare."

Chapter 13

Back in Lev's point of view. He's on the bus, trying to understand why he didn't run to the police when he had the chance. He thinks Risa is probably right, and that the police have orders to shoot Risa and Connor, with actual bullets.

Again, this makes no sense. I suppose Lev's Evil Family (he tells us they're influential, and not to be "trifled with") could want to keep Lev's escape, as they see it, quiet. But it's not like Unwound kids at the Harvest Factory have access to the media. I mean, I wouldn't expect they do.

Lev doesn't want Risa and Connor shot. But he does think they should be Unwound:

These two Unwinds are out of control. He no longer fears that they’ll kill him, but that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. They need to be protected from themselves. They need . . . they need . . . they need to be unwound. Yes. That’s the best solution for these two. They’re of no use to anyone in their current state, least of all themselves. It would probably be a relief for them, for now they’re all broken up on the inside. Better to be broken up on the outside instead. 

"Broken on the inside" reminds me of the way Arkansas Evangelicals talk about progressives. We're "dirty on the inside," as one of my kid's classmates told her.

It's a way of dehumanizing people, and thus very accurate here.

Anyway, he decides to enlist the help of the boy sitting next to him, telling him he's being held hostage by the AWOL kids sitting behind them.

The boy could not care less, which is kind of funny.

Chapter 14

The bus arrives at school. Connor, Lev, and Risa (still toting the baby) go to hide in the girl's bathroom until lunch time. Schusterman seems to think this would work, that no one would notice three kids and a baby going into a girl's bathroom and hiding out all morning. Connor says he used to hide in bathrooms all the time, to get out of going to class.

Did Schusterman go to high school? That's really not how it works. I mean, these kids aren't students, so no one will be looking for them. But Connor was a student at his school. The minute he didn't show up for class, his teacher would be issuing a report to the office, where someone would call his parents to ask where he was. Even when I was in school, back in the dark ages, that was how it worked. And I know it's how it works now, since I got more than one of those phone calls (always clerical errors, since my kid is an inveterate rule-follower).

Anyway, they hide in the bathroom. And we hear Connor's story about the storked baby that showed up on his doorstep.

His parents didn't want a baby, so they storked it to another house in the neighborhood. Who also storked it. Who also storked it. Eventually it showed up at Connor's house again, but by then it was dying of neglect.

That's Connor's trauma.

Except this story doesn't make sense in the world as it has been given to us -- apparently if you get a Storked Baby, and you don't want it, you're allowed to send it to one of the State Homes. That's what happened with Risa, remember.

Lev tells us that storking is perfectly moral, and no big deal. Doesn't his family have three storked kids? Also storking is in the Bible. Wasn't Moses storked? Checkmate, pagans.

Classes change. A flood of students. When the bathroom is empty again -- Connor and Risa notice Lev has run away.

How? He's a boy in the girl's bathroom. No one noticed as he left with them? No one said a thing? I mean, okay, maybe in the Future adolescents are more accepting of trans kids, but (a) Lev isn't trans and (b) this world doesn't seem like that world. So far we haven't even seen any LGB kids, much less trans kids.

Also, the baby starts crying.

Chapter 15

Ah. Now we get an explanation. As Lev was leaving the bathroom, the girls did notice him. But they just made fun of him.

Lev finds his way to the office and turns himself in, telling them he's been kidnapped by AWOL Unwinds.

Everyone is horrified and very sympathetic. The police are called. Lev is puzzled by their assumption that he's going home -- I guess he didn't notice that he didn't tell them he was an Unwind as well. To be fair, Lev doesn't consider himself an Unwind. He's a Tithe, which is...somehow better?

He calls home, and his pastor answers the phone, and is horrified to find Lev is trying to be unwound. He tells Lev that he convinced Lev's parents not to call the police, that Lev's escape was "God's Will."

And he tells Lev he should run for it. Lev is stunned.

And all at once the truth comes to Lev. Pastor Dan wasn’t telling him to run away from the kidnapper that day—he was telling Lev to run away from him. From his parents. From his tithing. After all of his sermons and lectures, after all that talk year after year about Lev’s holy duty, it’s all been a sham. Lev was born to be tithed—and the man who convinced him this was a glorious and honorable fate doesn’t believe it. 

So apparently in Schusterman's world the religious leaders know murdering kids for their organs is wrong, but...for some reason they don't stand up and say so?

Lev slips out of the office and pulls the fire alarm.

Why? I guess so he can escape in the hoo-rah, but that's not really clear.

Chapter 16

Now we're in the point of view of a teacher. She's mad that there's a fire alarm during her planning period, and also she thinks it's a fake alarm, like always. She thinks about staying in her room.

(Hey, Schusterman: Teachers are told when there's going to be a fire alarm test, and for just this reason -- you don't want them deciding to stay in their rooms during a real emergency.)

But she decides to evacuate with all the students, because she wants to be a good example.

As she's herding students from the building she hears -- a baby crying!

Following the sound, she finds Connor and Risa hiding in a chemistry lab with the storked baby. She realizes they're Unwinds (why? how? This is two kids with a baby, why does she think they're Unwinds?) and decides to help them escape.


I think we're supposed to understand that no one in this world thinks the Unwind program is a good idea. (Except maybe Connor's parents.) And yet they do nothing useful about it. I hope we find out why later.

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