Wednesday, March 14, 2012

When She Woke - Jordan

Called a retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter "via Margaret Atwood", When She Woke by Hilary Jordan introduces us to Hannah Payne, who wakes to find her skin bright red and her life changed forever.

Despite growing up in a very religious family, Hannah has always been a bit of a rebel. She spends many hours crafting "inappropriate" dresses and asking "why?", rather than dressing blandly and doing as she is told, as good girls are expected.  So it was not entirely a surprise to her then when she discovers that she has fallen in love with the local Reverend.
What is a surprise, however, is that he has also fallen in love with her. 

Their unacceptable relationship leads a pregnancy that Hannah can not explain.  In a world where a syphilis-like disease has reduced the number of humans greatly and where "...the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can..." (Amazon), Hannah is convicted of murder via abortion.  

After she is released from her brief imprisonment (during which she is televised live for citizens to watch and enjoy her pain), Hannah finds that she may be her worst enemy, or her best champion. She must learn to forgive herself while reevaluating her values. She is forced to discover who she really is, and not who her family expected her to be,. while creating a life "after".  But the only way through that door is to leave the past behind.

I loved this book. It was not at all what I expected. While it was a futuristic look at the world, it did not harp on that sci-fi stuff that I hate. The story, though it needed the sci-fi stuff for background, really focused on Hannah's emotional growth.

Very enjoyable and well worth the read!

4/5- Great. Push it on your friends and family. 
A Circle of Books