I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone. Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love. A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.
Rarely do I gush about a book, but gush I will about this book. The book really is a dystopian Scarlet Letter. Jordan nailed it perfectly. Hannah is the perfect character. She’s flawed and relatable. I found myself getting annoyed with the people in her life and some of her decisions, but that is what makes her flawed and such a perfect character. The book is uncomfortable at times and you have to take a breath and keep going, but thats what gives the book such power. By the end of the book you see Hannah become who she really is. She was always this person, but while being a red might have broke other people, it gave her the power to be her. Jordan writes it so well you feel like you are going through these changes with Hannah. I wish the book had been a little longer and we’d gotten a peek of what becomes of Hannah, but the book ends when Hannah’s journey ends and I understand that. There are many who probably will not like this book, but if you have an opened mind I would highly recommend this book.