When She Woke

When She Woke

Book - 2011
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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.

Publisher: Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9781565126299
Branch Call Number: FICTION Jordan Hillary
Characteristics: 344 p. ;,22 cm.


From Library Staff

List - Body Acceptance
JCLBeckyC May 01, 2013

Being stigmatized for how you look is nothing new, but a whole new level is reached in this futuristic look at crime and punishment. In this world, people’s offenses are literally imprinted on their skin. The main character’s skin has been colored red so that everyone who sees her will know she’s... Read More »

JCLDebbieF Oct 13, 2016

Interestingly enough, the concept of people being turned different colors based on the crimes they're convicted of is fascinating, but strangely it isn't as much of a big deal as you'd expect.

Meeting date: June 26, 2012

Based on The Scarlet Letter.

From the critics

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Apr 08, 2020

I liked this better than the Handmaid's Tale.

Think Handmaiden's Tale meets Black Mirror. Perfection in it's terrifying almost-reality, but endearing it's triumph of human spirit & friendship. Absolutely believe the title is has two meanings. Fantastic & highly recommended. <3

ArapahoeSusanW Sep 08, 2019

Dystopia for Grown ups in a society where offenders are live streamed for 48 hours, then painted a color based on their offense for a year. Main character Hannah, charged with the murder of her unborn child, struggles to re-enter society. Touching on feminism and fascism it's an intense read.

Jul 21, 2019

Definitely a page-turner. In a very Handmaid's Tale-type future, women's rights have been subjugated by extreme right-wing fundamental Christians. People who commit crimes undergo "melachroming," where they are dyed a very vivid color, based on their crime: yellow for more minor infractions, green for others, and red - like the heroine - for murder (abortion). An interesting and entertaining dystopic vision, but the writing was a bit simplistic as were the characterizations. I never for a second believed in the central love affair and I wish the author hadn't tortured her own worthy-of-standing-on-its-own story into a clone of The Scarlet Letter. Still, glad I read it and recommend it for fellow dystopia lovers.

Feb 04, 2019

Sometimes when I read a book, it seems that the author is writing it in hopes that it will become a movie. The story is set up, builds to a climactic action scene, some unlikely miracle happens and the problem is resolved. This is one of those books.

That said, it was still an interesting, entertaining, and memorable book.

Dec 26, 2018

Great concept and epic story! This was a really great feminist dystopian fiction story with a modern conceptualuzation of not only the criticism that accompanies women's choices in general, but their rights as well. I did feel that some characters were unnecessary and underdeveloped, but this may have been the author's way of forcing the whirlwind feeling of Hannah's journey. Overall good book.

LoganLib_JennyI Jul 22, 2018

Hillary Jordan's writing was fabulous with great pace and the character portrayal of Hannah made you really care about her.
I had to keep picking up the book to check on Hannah!
The world created by Jordan could definitely be expanded into more books to flesh out this dystopian future.
It is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale".

TSCPL_Miranda May 21, 2018

It was hard to put this one down! A well written, modern day take on The Scarlet Letter, with a strong, sympathetic main character. Fans of The Handmaid's Tale and Red Clocks will find much to admire in this thought-provoking story.

OPL_MaggieP Apr 13, 2018

Fast paced with influences of "The Handmaid's Tale".

SCL_Tricia Nov 22, 2017

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick, thought provoking read. I would recommend this book if you know what you are getting into. I did find it got a bit preachy at times. There is a part in the middle that I did not agree with, I felt it went against so much that the author was saying throughout the rest of the novel. The whole scene just felt wrong, when you get there you will understand.

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LoganLib_JennyI Jul 26, 2018

LoganLib_JennyI thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

Feb 21, 2013

Suvorov1 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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