Sunday 12 February 2012

When She Woke

Finished February 12
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
I'd already read Jordan's previous novel Mudbound, which was one of the early choices by Powell's bookstore for their Indiespensable subscription, and enjoyed it.
This novel is set in a future United States and Hannah Payne is a young woman in her twenties brought up in a strong evangelical household in Dallas. Hannah has always had a rebellious streak, wanting to know the why behind things in her world. She has a loving father, a somewhat stricter mother, and a sister, Becca, she is close to. When Hannah falls for a man who she should not, she tries to hold her feelings back, but when he reciprocates those feelings, she falls easily into a secret relationship.
As the book begins, Hannah awakes in jail, having been died red as part of a punishment for aborting her baby. Hannah didn't give up the name of the doctor who helped her, or the father of her baby, and that has added more years to her sentence. When she is freed into society, she finds herself an outcast, struggling to survive. As she adjusts to her new circumstances and learns who to trust, Hannah finds that she is stronger than she ever thought.
With elements from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, this novel looks at society, its expectations, and its punishments in an interesting light.
Thoroughly enjoyable read, and a good choice for a book club.

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