Tag Archives: When She Woke

A New Title, Look and Format for the Blog!! Get Excited Readers!

After some time off to get through this holiday thing (whew!) and finish up a Master’s Degree (yeah!) I did some research in the blogosphere of book reviews and decided this blog needed some sprucing up. I hope everybody likes it and I’d love to see some comments on the new look. As you can see (———–>>>) I’ve fallen behind on the reviews but NOT on the reading. Soooooo in an effort to atone for my silence in the blog, I will be featuring a book review a day for the month of January! Fair warning, although most of the books have been pretty awesome there may be some stinkers thrown in…. Without further ado here is my first review of the new year – one of my favorite books of this year When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.

When She Woke is a retelling of the classic The Scarlett Letter except in this version the heroine’s skin bears the color red instead of just a letter on her dress and it is set in a future theocratic America where conservative evangelical values have taken over the government. Hannah Payne is sentenced to life as a Red through a process called “chroming” -where an injection changes the color of the skin of the offender. These Chromes are then thrust back into society where they must survive as best they can. Hannah has been convicted of the murder of her unborn child. Her sentence is extended even further because she refuses to reveal the identity of the baby’s father, a prominent married minister. We follow Hannah through her initial incarceration where her every movement is broadcast for live television for millions to watch, then to a half-way house for other women in her situation and finally as she makes an escape hopefully to a better life. In between we find out the story of her passionate love affair and how she came to be convicted.

I have one word for this book – AMAZEBALLS! I loved it. This was a great combination of the Scarlett Letter with tones of The Handmaid’s Tale (another of my favorite books). The characters were interesting, flawed, sympathetic, and complex. The story was exciting and fast-paced but still took the time for back story. There was definitely an underlying message about the dangers of blurring the lines between church and state, but Jordan managed not to make it too preachy. The end of the book was great, a journey with Hannah as discovers herself and questions her upbringing.  I highly recommend this book – I give it nine shoes (oooooh my first!).

First Line : When she woke, she was red.

Three Appeals : futuristic dystopian sci-fi, interesting characters, retelling of a classic

Red Flags : I’m gonna guess you will not enjoy this if you are a conservative Christian…. the subject matter is also probably not for children, some violence and language, sexual situations.

If you like this book then try:

1) The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hester Prynne has been sentenced to wear the scarlett letter A for having a child from an adulterous affair. She refuses to name the father but when her estranged husband shows up, he is determined to find out who it is. A classic.

2) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the house of the Commander and his wife in the Republic of Gilead, a conservative theocratic society which is a feminist’s nightmare. Women are not allowed to read or hold jobs, and are seperated into classes : the Wives who are childless but morally superior, the Marthas who are housekeepers and the Handmaids who are supposed to have children to then turn over to the Wives. However, Offred can remember a time when she had a husband, a daughter and a job and starts to question her place in this society. An amazing classic and one of my favorite books of all time – definitely also take the time to check out some of Atwood’s other books including Alias Grace.

3) Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband’s Mississippi Delta farm—a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family’s struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura’s brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not—charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. (taken from Amazon.com)

Enjoy this one my friends, and let me know if you like it.

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Trina B.


Filed under book review, Jordan;Hillary, Literary, nine shoes