When She Woke: Review

24 Feb

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is a futuristic retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. The novel is set in Texas, where separation of church and state is a thing of the past and Roe v. Wade has been overturned. Hannah Payne, the novel’s protagonist, has devoted her life to family and church. Aside from her ability to create beautiful garments by hand, Hannah’s life seems unremarkable. That is, until she makes a decision that changes her life forever. As the novel begins, Hannah finds herself lying on a table in a paper-thin gown, her skin dyed red. Hannah is now a Chrome – a criminal whose skin is genetically-altered to reflect the crime she has committed. Her crime? Taking the life of her unborn child, a sin that is unpardonable in pious Texas. Life for Chromes is difficult. Because their crimes are advertised on their skin, Chromes face daily discrimination and persecution. Yet Hannah doesn’t feel like a criminal – she made the decision to abort her unborn child in order to protect the baby’s father. When She Woke illustrates the process Hannah must go through to understand the decision she made and adapt to life as an outsider.

When She Woke addresses many sides of a very sensitive issue – abortion. Like Hannah’s family, I believe that all human life is sacred, including the lives of unborn babies. Yet in spite of my personal beliefs, I truly felt compassion for Hannah. Although the novel focuses on a very difficult topic, it is still an enjoyable read. Reading When She Woke made me want to re-read The Scarlet Letter. I read The Scarlet Letter in high school, and I remember being very captivated by the plot. I’m sure I would enjoy it even more as an adult.

Now, I’m on to my next book for the Mount TBR Challenge – The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde!

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2 Responses to “When She Woke: Review”

  1. Tanya Patrice February 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I just finished this and really liked it. It dealt with so many issues – abortion, religion, race even – but I think the author did a fantastic job in making these issues part of the story.

    • salmeida February 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      I agree! The author included several controversial issues, but did a good job presenting these issues from multiple perspectives.

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