Just Finished Reading

Hannah Payne is now a Chrome – a Red Chrome to be exact. For the crime of abortion and refusing to name the father, who happens to be a married minister, her skin is dyed bright red for a period of sixteen years, signaling to all that she is a criminal. Before this, her life had been devoted to church and family and the harsh reality of living as a Red soon sets in. Upon her release from the Chrome ward of the Crawford State Prison in Texas, her father finds her a place in a kind of halfway house called the Straight Path Center. It turns out this is just another kind of prison with a cruel jailor. Hannah leaves the Straight Path Center and soon runs afoul of the Fist, a group of zealots whose guilty pleasure is beating Chromes to death. She is rescued by the Novemberists. Her rescue may not be all it’s cracked up to be when she realizes that with them all may not be as it seems. Hannah’s only hope now is to escape to Canada and be deChromed.

When She Woke is a powerful book. It is a frightening look at what might be when the few gain the power to govern the morals of the many. The title of this book has a double meaning. The first is literal, as the first pages open with Hannah waking from being Chromed and serving her thirty day sentence in prison. The second is metaphorical. The book encompasses the mental change Hannah goes through as she begins to question the things she was brought up to believe, allowing her for the first time in her life to become her own woman.

This book follows in the tradition of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood in taking events of today and using them to create an extreme society. If nothing else, When She Woke, will make you think and perhaps give you a new perspective on laws that are being passed today and the words that politician are saying and what might happen if they actually got the kind of society they are saying they want. Hillary Jordan has given us an extreme world, but not one that is entirely out of the realm of possibility when people give up the right to decide for themselves.


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