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When She Woke


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About the Author

Hillary Jordan spent fifteen years working as an advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. Her first novel, Mudbound, was named one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by PASTE magazine. It won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and awarded biennially to an unpublished debut novel that addresses issues of social justice. Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in Brooklyn.


In a dystopian future ruled by religious fundamentalists, young Hannah Payne is convicted of murder after having an abortion and becomes a "Chrome"-a criminal whose skin pigment has been altered to reveal her criminality to the world. Heather Corrigan begins her narration in a young, frightened voice, conveying Hannah's emotion, innocence, vulnerability, and shame. As Hannah matures and begins to question societal values and take control of her life and choices, Corrigan's voice gradually becomes stronger and more determined, reflecting the character's evolving maturity and strength. Corrigan also skillfully renders the book's supporting cast with a dazzling array of distinctive voices, including Southerner Kayla, French Simone, a sympathetic Bostonian preacher, and several merciless, bombastic, fire-and-brimstone villains. With Corrigan's excellent performance, this already thought-provoking novel becomes an utterly compelling, can't-stop-listening audiobook. An Algonquin hardcover. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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.

Reproductive freedom, racism, and the separation of church and state are only a few of the issues explored in this character-driven dystopian novel that bears parallels to The Scarlet Letter. (Oct.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

'Hillary Jordan channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller. Unputdownable'
Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day

'Not only one of the best books of the year, but it's everything the dystopian genre was made for . . . An instant classic for the 21st century'
Publisher's Weekly

'Holds its own alongside the dark intentions of Margaret Atwood and Ray Bradbury' NEW YORK TIMES

'A stunning futuristic thriller ... the setup in the first part of the book is excellent, very Handmaid's Tale, the second half is a straight chase and escape tale. The whole thing is stunning.'
The Bookseller

'Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm'
Barbara Kingsolver

'Jordan's tautly structured debut . . . confronts disturbing truths about America's past with a directness and a freshness of approach that recalls Alice Walker's The Color Purple.'
The Times

'The winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for a novel 'promoting social responsibility,' Hillary Jordan is happily a writer who puts her duty to entertain first'
The Independent

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