When She Woke

( 209 )


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...

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When She Woke is, in its simplest terms, a futuristic retelling of The Scarlet Letter. This sophomore novel from Mudbound author Hillary Jordan takes Hawthorne's classic several steps further, turning it into a pointed, blunt warning about the consequences of an America run by the church, not the state. Hannah Payne is sentenced to sixteen years of melachroming for aborting her child. Instead of bearing a scarlet "A" like Hester, Hannah's pigment is dyed a stop sign red, leading her to endure an ostracizing societal punishment as well. Jordan seamlessly interweaves the back story of Hannah's relationship with her unborn child's father; their relationship is sudden, passionate and the short interspersed flashbacks enhance the story and Hannah's spontaneous personality. While she stumbles through rebuilding her life, her sudden decisions in moments of trouble are made with confidence and determination. Jordan purposefully makes the story about Hannah's journey by keeping her secondary characters exactly that - secondary. Although they may guide and assist Hannah on her path, the decisions, character-building, and strength all come from within. Hannah is ultimately responsible for her future and she takes full responsibility for her past. While some readers may balk at Jordan's political and religious messages, the story of owning our decisions and actions is the focus of this engaging tale of redemption. —Megan Fecko, Merch Manager, #2154, Woodmere OH

The Book Case

“[A] provocative, politically charged novel... [Hannah’s] journey to reclaim herself is equally chilling and riveting.”—Family Circle
Jan Stuart
…chillingly credible…Jordan's feverishly conceived dystopia holds its own alongside the dark inventions of Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury…
—The New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly
Though she was raised a good Christian, Hannah Payne often asks uncomfortable questions in Jordan’s second novel (after Mudbound), such as “Why does God let innocent people suffer?” But questioning authority and breaking Texas law are two different things. Involved with her pastor, Hannah finds herself pregnant; to have the baby would mean publicly naming the father, so Hannah has an abortion. But in this alternate America, three years after the “Great Scourge” turned many women sterile, abortion is illegal, and Hannah is arrested. Her sentence: to live for several years as a “chrome,” injected with a virus that turns her skin bright red. Her father finds her refuge in a halfway house for nonviolent chromes of all hues, but Hannah rebels against the abuse she receives in their “enlightenment sessions” and flees into the arms of an underground feminist group whose brutal pragmatism frightens her. But as she falls victim to betrayal after betrayal, Hannah’s occasionally jarring naïveté begins to break down. Comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale are inevitable; Jordan extrapolates misogynist fundamentalism to a logical endpoint, but she does little else. Characters are political archetypes, the narrative wanders, and even Hannah’s transformation from dutiful daughter to take-charge fugitive feels false. (Oct.)

“With Corrigan’s excellent performance, this already thought-provoking novel becomes an utterly compelling, can’t-stop-listening audiobook.”
Publishers Weekly [starred review]

“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.”
Family Circle

“Corrigan’s narration becomes one with the plot.”
the Oprah magazine O
“[A] chilling futuristic novel.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
From the Publisher

“[A] provocative, politically charged novel . . . chilling and riveting.”
Family Circle

“Corrigan’s voice slowly matures as Hannah escapes and grows stronger and more self-reliant in a story that champions the empowerment of women.”

Library Journal
A young woman's life goes from heavenly to hellish is this dystopian vision of The Scarlet Letter from Jordan, who won the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for Mudbound, a searing portrait of racism. Jordan now proposes a further, more insidious form of discrimination. She imagines a society in which convicted criminals are chromed—their entire bodies dyed to a bright color—and sent into the world to face a sentence of public hatred and abuse. The victim in this story is Hannah Payne, an obedient daughter of a morally righteous family who senses a spark of sexual attraction with Rev. Aidan Dale, pastor of a powerful megachurch. Quickly, Hannah's life takes a turn toward abortion, conviction, incarceration, chroming, and government-sanctioned torture. Summoning up a newfound inner strength, Hannah goes on the run and follows an Underground Railroad-like path, where she learns to live by her wits and to trust no one. VERDICT Jordan offers no middle ground: she insists that readers question their own assumptions regarding freedom, religion, and risk. Christian fundamentalists may shun this novel, but book clubs will devour it, and savvy educators will pair it with Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. Essential.—Susanne Wells, MLS, Indianapolis
Kirkus Reviews
A retelling of classic Hawthorne in which the heroine becomes literally a Scarlet Woman.

Hannah Payne has committed adultery with respected preacher Aidan Dale, and in Jordan's postmodern world such transgressors are repigmented in a way that suits their crime—through the miracle of modern chemistry. Hannah is turned bright red. Again reminiscent of Hester Prynne's heroism inThe Scarlet Letter, Hannah refuses to name her fellow adulterer, so she bears much of the burden of her guilt and her punishment. The bleak world that Jordan has created has turned back Roe v. Wade, and all abortions are equated with infanticide, so technically she's a murderer as well as an adulterer. (In one clever episode, Hannah is forced to make a cloth doll of her dead child, whom she names "Pearl.") Because Hannah has had a strict religious upbringing, she constantly weighs her "evildoing" against the "rightness" of her deep love for the minister. We trace her journey through various stages of reclamation, starting with a spartan and severe halfway house run by a minister and his domineering wife, whose interest in Hannah's case seems both perverse and voyeuristic. After Hannah runs away from this establishment, she's caught up in a journey that she hopes will eventually lead her back to her family and to Aidan, but the politics get complicated when she links up with some radical feminists who support the right to choose and whose aim in life is to help those they feel have been wrongfully stigmatized. Things start to become even more sexually muddled when Hannah begins to have feelings for one of the feminists and has a brief fling.

Jordan manages to open up powerful feminist and political themes without becoming overly preachy—and the parallels with Hawthorne are fun to trace.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616201937
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 9/18/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 143,821
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Hillary Jordan

Hillary Jordan’s first novel, Mudbound, was the winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for fiction and an Alex Award from the American Library Association. It was named the NAIBA Fiction Book of the Year and one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by Paste magazine. Jordan grew up in Dallas, Texas, and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in New York City. Find her online at www.hillaryjordan.com.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 209 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 209 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 21, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An Incredible Read!!!

    Hannah is a grown woman living in a society where crimes are punishable by discoloration of the skin. They are referred to as Chromes, and after being convicted of murdering her unborn child, Hannah wakes up to find herself bright red. She anticipated that her life would change, but she could never have seen just how hard living as a Chrome would become. Enemies can be disguised as friends. Trust is a commodity. But Hannah finds a kindred soul in Kayla, another Red, and together these two women set out through dark times to save themselves and each other.

    I tore through this book at breakneck speed. The first chapter left me breathless and there was no turning back from there. Every time I had to put down the book and step away, my mind couldn't stop lingering on Hannah's story and craving more. This novel is a very scary vision of society's future, both dark and eerily plausible. I felt Hannah's struggles keenly, and didn't want to trust the people she met, even when she did. Hillary Jordan fills her characters with heart-breaking dialog and gut-wrenching descriptions. I really liked that everyone had their own personal story of difficult decisions, always lurking just below the surface until spoken out loud. There were a few questions that lingered in my mind, like whatever became of Hannah's sister? But Jordan has made me think about ugly and beautiful things, and I will not soon forget this incredible read.

    22 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2011

    Good Until...

    A great read until the author decides to go on several liberal rants. Ugh. Keep your politics to yourself and finish the book...

    19 out of 45 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 23, 2011

    A thought provoking page-turner!

    Jordan's protagonist Hannah Payne has the reader pulling for her from page one. She faces seemingly unconquerable odds: she has been chromed red for aborting her child, which is visible to all; her family has abandoned her, and she must make her way in a hostile, unforgiving world. Her naivete threatens to sink her, but her remarkable courage and desire to keep from harming the ones she loves fortify her, keeping the reader bound in the spell of her harrowing adventure.
    Hannah's epic journey enables her to know herself; no longer is
    she merely a product of what society and her family have taught her.
    Jordan creates a riveting journey of a young woman who not only survives the demons created by herself and the state but who is self-actualized by the process.
    Hannah Payne is a memorable character brought to life by Jordan's insight and skill as a writer. This book will probably create a stir because of its political and religious subject matter,which is exactly what a good book should accomplish. When She Woke would make a perfect book club book; the opportunities for discussion are many.

    Highly Recommended

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2011

    The Scarlet Letter meets The Handmaid's Tale meets women's rights

    The imagery in Hillary Jordan's When She Woke is phenomenal. The world is painted so vividly that reading the book, one feels as if they are in a world where certain people of various ages and races are a primary color based on a certain crime they may have committed.

    I don't like to give away plot lines in reviews, but I really loved the journey that Red Hannah Payne went through. From getting an abortion and being confined to a new color (Red) to an escape that would take her anywhere and everywhere she never imagined, finding allies in those she never would have trusted, and finding attraction in places she never would have looked.

    The only part I did not enjoy was the immense longing for the unobtainable man that I found unreasonable, but that is quite possibly a personal bias.

    Where the journey took her from "when she woke" as a Red to "when she woke" reborn was a mix of The Scarlet Letter and the confinement of The Handmaid's Tale. There was a significant amount of women's rights and religious subtext, but was not over-the-top.

    Highly recommended.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting and Engaging! A must read!

    When She Woke is a dystopian themed adult fiction inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. And like Hawthorne's book, the main character, Hannah Payne, is publicly condemned and ostracized for her perceived crime and forced to wear scarlet as a badge of shame, yet refuses to name the man who responsible for her pregnancy. When She Woke also explores similar themes of religion, adultery, and criminality as did The Scarlet Letter.

    After being convicted of murdering her unborn child, Hannah goes through a process called melachroming which entails a convicted criminal having their skin color altered to announce the type of crime they committed. She wakes to find herself in a solitary room with only a shower, sleeping platform, and a camera in the wall that will, for her first thirty days as a "Chrome," monitor and broadcast her every move to the entire world.

    The dystopian society was one of extreme religious conservatism and the one aspect of this that almost didn't fit for me was that in such an almost Puritanical society, would they really rely so heavily on technology? Otherwise, imagining a society built on the tenets of extreme fundamentalistic Christian beliefs was downright frightening. Hannah was forced to contend with her guilt over making choices that not only went against every principal she had been taught to believe in her strict evangelical upbringing, but also put her in the untenable position of losing her friends, family, reputation, and possibly her own life. She struggled to reconcile her actions with her religious beliefs and wondered if she would ever feel a connection to God again.

    I found When She Woke to be extremely thought provoking. The idea of melachroming intrigued me. There is some part of me that is not fully convinced that this is such a bad idea as it would effectively punish the criminal through public humiliation yet save the state the expense of housing all but the most violent offenders. In the book, there was a lower life expectancy for some crimes or "colors" such as Red (murderers) and Greens (Child Molesters) while those convicted of less serious crimes (Yellows) were less feared and hated but still ostracized. Right or wrong, it was certainly a fascinating concept to consider.

    With all of the heavy and thought provoking themes in When She Woke, it still managed to be an exciting and engaging read. I devoured this book in just one day, unable to put it down. I knew before the first hundred pages that I wouldn't be getting any sleep that night until I finished it. It sinks its hooks in early and never lets go as it takes you on an action packed and emotionally stirring journey. When She Woke takes a fairly clear stance on the topic of abortion, however, I don't believe it was presented in such a biased way that those who differ in their beliefs would be unable to enjoy it. When She Woke presents the story from a clearly feminist perspective and this may be off-putting for some but I found it to be an inspiring story about the struggle from oppression to empowerment. This will definitely be shelved with my all time favorites. I would recommend this to fans of dystopian themed fiction, those who enjoyed the Handmaids Tale or The Scarlet Letter, and those who enjoy fiction that focuses on socially relevant issues.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    A modern retelling of "The Scarlet Letter"

    This book was great, but it seems to just be a modern, "dumbed down" version of "The Scarlet Letter." The similarities between the two books include: (1) symbolism of the color red; (2) the initials of both book's main characters "H.P."; and, (3) in TSL Hester's baby is named "Pearl,' in WSW, Hannah remarks that she wold have named her baby "Pearl"). Overall, the book was a quick, easy read; however, I give it only 3 stars because of the author's undisguised and unrecognized reliance upon Nathaniel Hawthorne for her story-line.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2012


    I wanted to like this book. The premise sounded very interesting and promising, but truth be told, I abandonned the book about a third of the way through.

    I'm a huge Margaret Atwood fan and looked forward to a different take on women's rights in a disutopian society. Hillary Jordan tries very hard to emmulate Ms. Atwood...but she fails miserably. While Atwood is able to subtly describe and reinforce the nightmare of living in a conservative disutopia, Jordan fails to exhibit this skill. Where Atwood uses a scalpel to 'disect' her world, Jordan attacks hers with a sledgehammer. The Religious Right seems to be a character all its own, and a rather flat, 2-dimensional character at that. While I sympathisize with Jordan's evident dislike of the Religious Right, her clear bias weakens any message she was trying to communicate.

    While the plot sounded promising, it fails to deliver. Jordan has relied on the thoughts and successes of greater authors, namely Nathaniel Hawthorne and Margaret Atwood, to carry her story. But not even the insightful prose of these litterary greats could support Jordan's attempt.

    If you are looking for deep, thought-provoking litterature, keep looking. I strongly suggest Margaret Atwood. If, however, you are looking for simplistic fiction, look no further than When She Woke.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2012

    I Also Recommend:


    This haunting story grabs you on the first page and won't let go. Some may be adversed to the pro-choice storyline with heavy social issues. The many social and religious explorations Hannah’s world insists on makes survival challenging. Hannah evolves nicely but not without much struggle with her faith, aborting her baby, and losing love. She knows that life as she knew it will never be the same again. Her journey is frightening and will either bring God back into her heart of she could lose her life. There is a lot of graphic detail in this dark futuristic time period with a whole new set of rules. A sexually transmitted disease has killed off most of the world’s population and because of it the world has reverted back to historical Puritanical living…women are once again dominated by men, clothes covering there whole bodies, seldom getting out of their houses. Rather than jail, crime is punishable by chroming which alters the color of their skin to reflect the crime and as a result are ostracized by everyone. Very scary but what an imagination!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2011

    A Primer for What Happens Under Neoconservative Rule

    Think it can't happen here? Think again. This is what happens when citizens sit back and allow radical conservative candidates to gain control. Hannah reminds us of the importance of struggling to remain human and evolving from the bonds of fudamentalism. This is a must read, especially in today's teavangelically charged climate.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2012

    more from this reviewer


    First, I want to be up front and say that this book is about abortion. It is basically pro-choice propaganda hiding behind the sub-genre of dystopian fiction. If you have a problem with that, don't read this book.
    THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. I couldn't do it without spoilers. If you decide to read the review, you'll understand why.
    In a retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hillary Jordan's world presents us with Hannah Payne. In a futuristic United States, a new form of punishment for crimes has been established known as melachroming. Those who are convicted of crimes and who are not likely to be violent or repeat a violent act, are given a virus that turns their skin a different color based on their crime. Those accused of murder are melachromed red. In addition, most states have enacted the Sanctity of Life law that makes abortion a crime- murder. Hannah lives in Texas (of course) and her family belongs to a fanatically religious community. She begins an affair with their parish pastor and becomes pregnant, so she has an abortion and is caught. She is melachromed Red. When She Awoke tells the story of what happens to Hannah when she must go back out into society, branded with her crime.
    This book is going to be a little difficult to review. As I always say, I review books based on how much I enjoy them and for the most part, I did enjoy When She Awoke. The problem is that rather than being just fiction, the book is primarily pro-choice propaganda. If the book had remained simply dystopian fiction, this would be a very different review.
    The dystopian world Jordan sets up is intriguing. Religious fundamentalism seems to have taken over the government and abortion is now illegal, considered to be murder. Here's the problem- why just include abortion? This is why I say that the book is obviously propaganda. If it were truly intended as a dystopian fiction novel, adultery would have also been included as a crime, or homosexuality. But they're not.
    After being released, Hanna's father takes her to a reeducation safe house called The Straight Path Center. This safe house and the two founders, the Henleys, are creepy. Creepy is good. But again, Jorden deserts this path too soon, totally abandoning a potentially weird and fascinating story. Jobs are posted on a board and there is the mysterious job assignment referred to only as Zilpah. Later, another Chrome named Kayla, tells Hannah the Zilpah job is just personal assistant stuff for Mrs. Henley. Wikipedia: "Zilpah also figures in the competition between Jacob's wives to bear him sons. Leah stops conceiving after the birth of her fourth son, at which point Rachel, who had not yet borne children, offers her handmaid, Bilhah, in marriage to Jacob so that she can have children through her. When Bilhah conceives two sons, Leah takes up the same idea and presents Zilpah as a wife to Jacob." I can't even begin to list all the creepy scenarios that could have come out of this. Yet after planting such a provocative mystery with Bridget telling Hannah she'll learn more about that job later, the author abandons it! WTH? Did she not understand the significance of using the name Zilpah? Jordan could have had a whole The Handmaid's Tale thing going on. So disappointing...
    Hannah leaves the center and visits her sister Becca whose husband Cole joined The Fist of Christ, "the most brutal and feared vigilante group in Texas, known to be responsible for the deaths of dozens of Chromes and the beating and torture of hundreds more... Each struck a single blow with whatever weapon he chose to use: a boot or a brass-knuckled fist, a club, a knife, a gun. Each had the power when his turn came to maim, kill or let live, at his sole discretion." Again, this could have been a really good storyline, yet Jordan teases the reader with it, brings it up only once more and then drops it. In my opinion, that was another big mistake.
    The there's the revolutionary movement called the Novembrists. Given the topic, it makes perfect sense that this movement is in the book; it sort of has to be. But the whole angry lesbian feminist leader thing just ruins it. The sensitive, heterosexual male whose motivation is more pure, is constantly being bashed and marginalized by Simone, the leader. Susan and Anthony, whose sexuality is not even mentioned, are minimal characters and have to check with Simone for everything. It would be different if they were all on the same level and there was someone else above all of them, but that is not the case. It's disingenuous and blatant propaganda. And here's the more important question- why do we care that Simone is a lesbian? Does it further the plot any? No. There are no laws against homosexuality. In addition, Hannah's interaction with these characters is so short. Under the circumstances, is it realistic that this should come up? No.
    Unless you want to add another totally unnecessary scene- a lesbian sex scene. It was stupid. Hannah obviously is not a lesbian. She was in love with Aidan before the lesbian scene. She was in love with Aidan after the lesbian scene. "She'd just been intimate with another woman. She'd initiated their intimacy, taken pleasure in it, felt deeply connected to another woman. Did that make her a lesbian then, or a bisexual? Would she be attracted to other women besides Simone, or had this been an anomaly, sparked by her kidnapping, near-rape and rescue?" Besides the fact that Jordan immediately gives Hannah an out, this was just unnecessary and pointless. This is the only time Hanna's sexuality comes into question and it lasts for a few pages- that's it! What's the point? It's like Jordan wanted to just throw in a bunch of social complaints and then take them nowhere. Again, in my opinion, the author should have focused on something and stuck with it. Hannah goes from a fundamental environment, to having an affair with a married pastor, then has an abortion, has the strength to run from a reeducation safe house, gets entangled with a resistance movement, and then just to round things out a bit, not only has a lesbian experience, but initiates it and knows exactly what to do. Let that sink in- Hannah knew exactly what to do. Sorry, but I've got to call it- BS!
    Ahh... there's more, but I am just so tired at this point. It's just not worth it...
    I originally rated When She Awoke as three stars, but after going through the review and identifying all the lost opportunities, I just couldn't do it. Yes I enjoyed most of the book, but in order to, I had to mentally dismiss all the propaganda. Toward the end, Jordan lost my interest, but since I was so close to finishing, I kept with it. However, by that point, it was already obvious where Hannah would end up. It was an easy ending. I had hoped Jordan wouldn't go there, but she did.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012


    Too political and religious. Took away from the book . The one part after she got out of the cgrome eard could hsve been cut completely.

    3 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I really wanted to like this one... I really hated it. The extre

    I really wanted to like this one... I really hated it. The extremely liberal views expressed in this book and the attack of traditional values was not in the nature of The Scarlet Letter. While this isn't in the teen section at the library, it is shelved with the teen books at my local B&N and it shouldn't be.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    Book bummer

    Just finished When She Awoke. It had so much potential, but it was a let down.
    Lot of parallels with Scarlet Letter, but it never really hit the mark.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    A good short story

    I purchased this book for my nook app for my daughter but I read everything she reads first usually. I thought this was a good story with some very good ideas and thoughts in it. If it could have been longer so as to flesh everything out more I would have given it 5 stars.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2012

    Nothing special

    Intial it showed promise but that quickly faded for me. It went off on weird tangents & had issues that were left hanging. Author definitely added aspects for "shock value" & some things were just left totally unexplained. Don't waste your precious reading time on this one!

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Great book, ending didn't do it for me

    The book overall was great but the ending just felt like it didn't fit with the rest of the book. But overall I loved it and highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    When She Woke is a Great Read

    I really enjoyed reading When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. Once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. The characters were believeable and the main characters, Heather and Kayla were likeable and grew as the story progressed. I loved how the story progressed and hope that she will write a sequel to this novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    Interesting read

    Loved the book! Very interesting insight into religion and its unavoidable intersection with politics. It's a disturbing perspective, but I loved it.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is futuristic take on the classi

    When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is futuristic take on the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne book, The Scarlet Letter.

    And it was really really cool and strange.  But only for the first 50% of the book.  Then it got a little too twisty-turny for my taste.

    Hannah is a religious girl in a futuristic time when there is a virus that makes the majority of women infertile.  Because of this, many religious laws are created in order to protect the sanctity of life.

    Remind anyone else of The Handmaid's Tale by Atwood?

    Hannah becomes romantically involved with her (married) pastor, who also just happens to be one of the most successful men in America at the time.  When she realizes she is pregnant, she breaks the law in order to have an abortion (they repealed Roe v. Wade).

    Hannah is found out, convicted, and sentenced to be a Red, with her skin dyed in order to single her out as someone who committed murder.

    Like I said, the first 50% of the book was amazing and kept me on the edge of my seat.  It was a fabulous cross between The Handmaid's Tale and The Scarlet Letter!

    But then the book fell apart for me.  The twists and turns were too much, and at some point I stopped believing them.

    That's just me, though!  The book is rated a 3.7ish on Goodreads, and it's worth taking a chance on if this concept sounds as intriguing to you as it did to me.

    What are your thoughts on post-apocalyptic fertility stories?

    Just kidding!

    Have you read any of these books (Handmaid's Tale, Scarlet Letter, When She Woke)?

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 24, 2013

    Ms. Hillary Jordan creates a world where Roe v. Wade has been ov

    Ms. Hillary Jordan creates a world where Roe v. Wade has been overturned, religion and government has become one, privacy is nonexistent, and women take 5 million steps backwards in their move toward equality.  Hannah is discovered to have had an abortion and subsequently convicted of murder. In this world, a conviction of murder leads to chroming where her skin is changed to the color that represents her crime.  Hannah discovers that the world is a completely different place for a chrome.  She struggles to be accepted by her family, questions her faith, and tries to survive.  When she is given a chance at freedom, she must decide if it is worth leaving everything behind.

    On the story...
    I picked this story because of the cover and I had no idea what I was getting into.  I had no idea of the subject matter at all.  Ms. Jordan does not hesitate to take on all the big issues and create a captivating story that will keep the reader interested from beginning to end.  Hannah becomes a different person at the end and I enjoyed her growth.  This world is so vivid and disturbing.  It really sticks with you.

    BUT I definitely had conflicting feelings while reading this book.   There were points where I told myself, I couldn't wait for the story to be over, but at the same time, I wanted to know what was going to happen.  I was uncomfortable for most of the book.  Maybe that's a good thing.  Maybe that was the point of a story like this.  It definitely makes you think.  I've never seen a book take on so many controversial issues.  If you are uncomfortable discussing, hearing about, or reading about abortion, religious intolerance, racism, or homosexuality, this might not be the read/listen for you.

    Ultimately, Ms. Jordan seems to weave a story around a central themes of hypocrisy and shaming.  I don't think the situations present in this book are in the not-so-distant future.  I think these things are happening right now.  People who are imprisoned and released cannot get jobs.  They are not accepted.  Even though they have served their debt to society, they are continuously punished and shamed.  Many of these people feel like they must return to a life of crime to eat and to survive because it is the only place the are accepted or the only way they can make any money. We as a society think this is okay.  The message seemed to be "this could happen if..." But I'm thinking, "this IS happening now in a different form."  Toward the end, I felt Ms. Jordan lost the strength of her message (and story) with some of Hannah's unbelievable choices but that's just me.

    So to sum it up... this is a great book that makes the reader think and I had no idea where the story was going.  I was definitely intrigued from beginning to the end.  It may also be very uncomfortable read for some people.

    On the narrator...
    Ms. Corrigan did a good job narrating this book.  At first, her voice surprised me because it was light and higher than I expected and it didn't seem like the voice of a narrator.  I soon grew accustomed to her voice and style and thought it fit just fine.  Honestly, I found myself hanging on to every word that was being said, I didn't even hear or pay attention to "the voice."  I just pictured the story unfolding in front of me.

    Overall, a good book if you aren't ultra sensitive (like me).

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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