When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

In When She Woke, Jordan imagines a not-too distant future where the Christian Right has seemingly “won”.  Abortion is outlawed and the US now has a “Secretary of Faith” appointed by the President.  In an effort to ease overcrowded prisons all but the most violent criminals are “Chromed” – meaning a virus is injected into them that genetically alters their skin color – and then set loose as outcasts in society.  Different classes of criminals have different skin colors.

Hannah Payne is the secretly rebellious daughter in a strict, Christian family.  The book opens after her sentencing for aborting her child.  For the crime of murder, her skin has been chromed to a vivid-red color.  Because she refused to name both the father of the baby and the doctor who performed the abortion, her sentence is extended.   Once released, Hannah must endure criticism and censure from strangers, friends and family members.  She also gets caught up in an underground movement that is fighting the laws against abortion.

Hilary Jordan does a masterful job of painting a believable future, allowing you to focus on Hannah and issues that result from the politics of the day and not get bogged down in the details of advancing technology.  Regardless of your politics, this book is a wonderful conversation-starter and is sure to be a winner with book clubs.  Because the story is loosely based on The Scarlet Letter, it may also make an interesting companion read for Hawthorne’s classic.

Find and request this book in our catalog.

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