“Inspired by The Scarlet Letter, this is a stunning, suspenseful, and scary look at what happens to Hannah Payne when she is arrested and convicted of having an abortion in a futuristic America. Her punishment is to become a 'chrome,' a criminal whose skin color is genetically altered to reflect her crime. Hannah becomes a Red for the crime of murder, and she further complicates her situation by refusing to name the father of her unborn child. Once chromed, she is released and must survive as best she can. Her navigation through the perils of a hostile society launches Hannah on a journey of self-discovery and makes readers question the consequences of politicizing the personal. Jordan's characters are compelling and her pacing is flawless; I couldn't put this book down!”
— Erica Caldwell, Present Tense, Batavia, NY
Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan's provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed--their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes--and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.
In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.