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When she woke : a novel
Jordan, Hillary
Adult Fiction JORDAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Though she was raised a good Christian, Hannah Payne often asks uncomfortable questions in Jordan's second novel (after Mudbound), such as "Why does God let innocent people suffer?" But questioning authority and breaking Texas law are two different things. Involved with her pastor, Hannah finds herself pregnant; to have the baby would mean publicly naming the father, so Hannah has an abortion. But in this alternate America, three years after the "Great Scourge" turned many women sterile, abortion is illegal, and Hannah is arrested. Her sentence: to live for several years as a "chrome," injected with a virus that turns her skin bright red. Her father finds her refuge in a halfway house for nonviolent chromes of all hues, but Hannah rebels against the abuse she receives in their "enlightenment sessions" and flees into the arms of an underground feminist group whose brutal pragmatism frightens her. But as she falls victim to betrayal after betrayal, Hannah's occasionally jarring naivete begins to break down. Comparisons to The Handmaid's Tale are inevitable; Jordan extrapolates misogynist fundamentalism to a logical endpoint, but she does little else. Characters are political archetypes, the narrative wanders, and even Hannah's transformation from dutiful daughter to take-charge fugitive feels false. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

A young woman's life goes from heavenly to hellish is this dystopian vision of The Scarlet Letter from Jordan, who won the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction for Mudbound, a searing portrait of racism. Jordan now proposes a further, more insidious form of discrimination. She imagines a society in which convicted criminals are chromed-their entire bodies dyed to a bright color-and sent into the world to face a sentence of public hatred and abuse. The victim in this story is Hannah Payne, an obedient daughter of a morally righteous family who senses a spark of sexual attraction with Rev. Aidan Dale, pastor of a powerful megachurch. Quickly, Hannah's life takes a turn toward abortion, conviction, incarceration, chroming, and government-sanctioned torture. Summoning up a newfound inner strength, Hannah goes on the run and follows an Underground Railroad-like path, where she learns to live by her wits and to trust no one. VERDICT Jordan offers no middle ground: she insists that readers question their own assumptions regarding freedom, religion, and risk. Christian fundamentalists may shun this novel, but book clubs will devour it, and savvy educators will pair it with Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. Essential.-Susanne Wells, MLS, Indianapolis (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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