Take one part The Scarlet Letter, two parts A Handmaid's Tale, and one part Ray Bradbury and you get When She Woke by the imaginative and talented Hillary Jordan.
When She Woke opens in the not-too-distant future where fundamentalist conservatism is the final word in government. This isn't particularly good news for anyone, but especially not for women. Unlike Margaret Atwood's feminist dystopia, the government has not yet become a completely fascist Evangelical regime, but is rather more similar to our government today (making it all the more chilling!) There is still a separation between church and state... but it's blurry at best and most government decisions are based heavily on religious opinion. They have also instated a new form of penal enforcement called "chroming" where the perpetrator's skin is dyed to reflect the nature of the crimes. Hannah, our heroine, begins the book by waking up with her skin dyed red, reflecting her charge of murdering her unborn child.
The book is excellent. Well paced, it only took me three days to read the whole thing I was so wrapped up in the story-- interesting, the world Jordan creates has enough similarities to our own to keep me thinking while constantly changing attitudes to keep me surprised-- human, the characters are all beautifully crafted to inspire, horrify, and bind themselves to you-- challenging, I was pleasantly surprised to find an author not afraid to confront taboo issues such as abortion. Abortion is probably the most heated debate in the United States today, yet the A-word is rarely even mentioned in pop culture. I applaud Hillary Jordan for tackling this issue with imagination, grace, and full strength of conviction.
The especially good news in this situation is not only that we have copies of When She Woke on sale now, but that YOU can meet the author on October 9th in our store! I'll be there getting my signed copy, and even if you don't get a chance to pick up the book between now and then you should definitely stop by.