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When She Wokeby Hillary Jordan
When She Woke is a particularly good nod to Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, but even more, it is a fabulous tale of self discovery. When Hannah Payne wakes up with red skin (a punishment as well as an indicator of her crime), it catapults her into a desperate flight for her life. While trying to negotiate her futuristic world, Hannah begins to see herself in two distinct ways: before and after. The slow unraveling of her previously held beliefs and blind assumptions is truly satisfying. When She Woke is a harrowing dystopian adventure as well as a contemplative journey of self-discovery. References to Scarlet Letter are a delicious cherry on top.
Dystopian thrillers are all the rage for a reason: books like this! Scary and fun and thought-provoking and... well, Hillary Jordan gives Suzanne Collins a run for her money.
Synopses & Reviews
Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan's provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed — their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes — and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.
In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.
"Hillary Jordan channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller. Unputdownable." Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day
“[A] chilling futuristic novel.” O, the Oprah magazine
“Jordan manages to open up powerful feminist and political themes without becoming overly preachy — and the parallels with Hawthorne are fun to trace.” Kirkus Reviews
“Christian fundamentalists may shun this novel, but book clubs will devour it, and savvy educators will pair it with Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. Essential.” Library Journal
“It reads like a thriller, and one that makes you think hard, to boot. I’ve already placed this one on my favorite-books-for-book-clubs list.” The Book Case
“The Scarlet Letter could unfurl from no better a speculative pen than that held by Hillary Jordan. She takes the seeds of that story and roots them in a world where ‘right to life’ is the law of the land....The result...is as compulsively readable as it is thought-provoking.” The Denver Post
“In the chillingly credible tomorrowland of Jordan’s second novel, Roe v. Wade has been overturned, abortion has been criminalized in 42 states and a vigilante group known as the Fist of Christ brutalizes violators....Jordan’s feverishly conceived dystopia holds its own alongside the dark inventions of Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury.” The New York Times Book Review
“Hannah’s fight for freedom is both a sober warning and a gripping page-turner. Already it reads like a classic.” AARP
“Jordan’s take on the hot button issues of our time — separation of church and state, abortion, an imperfect criminal justice system — is compelling.” San Antonio Express-News
“An inventive tale about a new America that has lost its way...When She Woke is, at its heart, a tense, energetic and lively paced story about self-discovery and reclamation in the wake of enormous shame. It is a story about the price of love.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Will spark many an intriguing book club discussion.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Hillary Jordan is the author of Mudbound, winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for fiction and an Alex Award from the American Library Association. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and Muskogee, Oklahoma, and received her MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. She lives in New York City.
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