From the Publisher
“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
“An utterly engrossing story, driven by a heroine as layered and magnetic as Hester Prynne herself, and reminiscent, too, of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Absolutely a must-read.”
—Booklist, starred review
“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
“[A] provocative, politically charged novel . . . [Hannah’s] journey to reclaim herself is equally chilling and riveting.” —Family Circle
“Will spark many an intriguing book club discussion.” —The Cleveland Plain Dealer
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.