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She Was: A Novel
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She Was: A Novel

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  115 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Doreen Woods is many things: a successful dentist who donates time and skills to the needy, a loving wife and mother, a sister who cares for her dying brother. She has carefully built an exemplary life. But all of this is threatened when a comrade from the seventies shows up. Over the next week Doreen's past rushes in as she is forced to admit to her family and herself the ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 22nd 2008 by William Morrow
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Mar 27, 2008 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all readers....

Hallowell is a deft craftswoman, and her novel, an absolutely must read, is a masterful braiding of two counterpoint stories: Doreen the passionate anti-Vietnam war Weather Underground activist who plants a bomb that inadvertently kills a man, and her brother Adam, who serves in that war only to prove to their father that he’s not a coward—neither realizing that their choice will have unintended repercussions which will dictate the shape of their lives.
Vietnam wasn’t the front line for
Tattered Cover Book Store
"She Was" is a wonderful new novel by Janis Hallowell, the author of "The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn". Set in 2005, it is the story of a secret that has been tightly held for 34 years by Doreen Woods, the main character. Suddenly, as it breaks through the surface of her happy and orderly life, we see the many and painful consequences of one horribly wrong decision made by a young woman caught up in the swirl of the anti-war movement in the United States during the 1970's.

Her story and that o
Jun 06, 2008 Steven rated it really liked it
Hallowell follows up on The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn with another novel that throws quotidian family life together with big, over-arching American political themes. She Was follows a 1970s radical who reinvents herself as a wife, mother, and dentist, only to be "outed" three decades after she dropped out of the movement. Although some of the historical sections, in which we see the heroine enmeshed in the politics of the 60s, felt more studied than instinctive, but Hallowell makes up for t ...more
Robin Nicholas
Jul 01, 2009 Robin Nicholas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I am the first person to review this book! I liked this book a lot. It is about a woman who leads a very normal productive life. She is a Dentist, mother and wife. She has set up a clinic to provide homeless with Dental care...she is a well respected person in her community. She has a past that no one knows anything about, including her husband. She was a part of the radical group "Fishbone" in the early 70's....she had a part in an act gone bad. She is a wanted woman. She has a new identit ...more
Nov 18, 2008 Cheryl rated it it was ok
It was okay.
Feb 08, 2013 Lindsey rated it really liked it
She Was tells the story of Doreen Woods (mother, wife, dentist, upstanding citizen for the past thirty-four years) previously Lucy Johanssen (Vietnam war protester, activist, domestic terrorist, unintentional murderer) who is a soon to be discovered fugitive. As I was reading this, I really liked Doreen and her family and I didn't want her to go to jail, which I guess speaks to Hallowell's writing. As I got towards the end, I started asking myself what I would think should happen to someone if I ...more
Jun 09, 2008 Janeen rated it liked it
This book has been an interesting read as it incorporates the seventies history era with today’s. The setting takes place in major cities around the United States and follows the life of a former radical group member, Lucy Johansson. As the war in Vietnam is going on, Lucy joins a radical group and plants a bomb in a New York university hoping to bring attention to their views against the war. Unfortunately, plans go wrong and the bomb Lucy plants ends up killing a person and she must le
Gail Storey
May 04, 2008 Gail Storey rated it it was amazing
Janis Hallowell's amazing novel SHE WAS lifted off for me in the first few lines, and soared the deeper I got into it. It takes its charge from a young woman's bombing of an ROTC building to protest the war in Vietnam, but it's a novel very relevant to today's political climate. It draws parallels between the wars in Vietnam and Iraq, but its real resonance is in the emotional devastation wreaked on the characters. Doreen Woods--an activist turned mother and dentist, her husband Miles, and their ...more
May 20, 2008 Jackie rated it really liked it
This book by Colorado author Hallowell (who also wrote The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn) is perfectly at home in today's political climate with it's under-tones of "recreate '68". It centers on Doreen Woods, Denver dentist and mother. She does charitable work, she takes care of her brother (a Vietnam vet in the last stages of MS), worries about her son who has recently graduated from high school, and loves her husband of 20some years. But Dorrie has a secret that is about to blow all of their ...more
Nov 24, 2015 Colleen rated it liked it
Another book about changed identities as a result of political activity in the 1970s in the USA. This one is a very personal story about the transformation of a woman into someone else. The politics and her changing views over the years are there, but not as strongly as in, for example, The Company You Keep - which really goes into the politics of the time, ad deconstructs the rationales through the lens of time.
May (who gave me Eat The Document to read) adds: 'I could not put it down in the en
Nov 06, 2009 Reiko rated it really liked it
A book about strong political beliefs in the '60's and the consequences of acting on them. So many were opposed to the Vietnam War, and hoped their actions would send a message to the government to end it. Unfortunately, some took their actions too far. This book reads like non-fiction. I have to wonder if it is based on true happenings. The main character deals with what must be an amazing amount of anxiety hiding her past and completely reinventing herself. I liked this one quite a bit, but wi ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Cherie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
B At times, I couldn't wait to get to the end of this novel, but other times, I was feeling more eh. There are three stories: young Lucy who is becoming engaged with a radical movement of the sixties, who ultimately plots a bomb that kills someone; Lucy as Doreen who has lived for years in hiding, forgetting her past, as a dentist, wife, and mother; and Lucy/Doreen's brother's Adam's recollections of his horrendous time in Viet Nam while he suffers with MS. Interesting plotlines, though at times ...more
Carolyn Feltus-atkinson
Jul 31, 2015 Carolyn Feltus-atkinson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
I was fully prepared to hate this book; I was sure it was going to be sympathetic to a terrorist. In actuality it helped me to understand the mindset of these young people who are going to join ISIS by looking into the mind of a Vietnam protestor. "The pull of the group" she describes. "They made revolution look sexy and heroic". "Intoxicating" is how she describes the feeling of belonging to this elite force. I think the feeling of the time and the horrors of the war were laid out without justi ...more
Malenna Anders
Dec 16, 2012 Malenna Anders rated it did not like it
The book She Was so far was a good book, i enjoyed what ive read so far. I only got to chapter three, thats why i rated it a one star because i didnt get to read the entire book. What ive read was intense in a good way., but like i said i only read to chapter three so i dont have that much to go off of. The cover of the book got my attention it seemed so mysterious, and interesting that i had to read it. I know if i read the entire book it wouldve been awesome.
So far, I'm finding this book very ho-hum. I checked it out from the library. It's about a former counterrevolutionary who went underground, formed a new identity, and has been living with her unsuspecting husband and son in Denver for the past twenty-five years. Now, the FBI is on her trail...
Actually, my summary makes it sound more interesting than the book really is. With all that's going on in the world right now, the 60s seems so...irrelevant.
Feb 17, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it
This story is about a woman who is a member of a radical antiwar group in the 70's. After one fateful event, her life is changed forever and she is forced to change her identity. She spends the next 34 years living the life of an upstanding citizen, mom, wife and dentist. a very good read!

In addition, this author resides in Denver CO ... and some of the story takes place in Denver :)
Dec 05, 2013 Usha rated it really liked it
I nearly abandoned this during the first or second chapter as I didn't love the tone or style. I'm so glad I pressed on. I loved this story and the characters. I couldn't put it down and read it in a 36 hour period. I'm rating it a 4 as i didnt find the opening to be great and I wanted more of a closing to the story as well.
Apr 01, 2008 Nancy rated it liked it
Doreen Woods is a middle class successful dentist, with a decent marriage, a son about to head off to college, and a secret which seems to be catching up with her. One wishes the author had been able to take the story to a deeper level emotionally, but it was still an interesting read.
May 18, 2009 Nina rated it it was amazing
As Hallowell weaves her story of how the past influences and haunts the present, she recreates the social activism of the 60's. Her scenes transition seamlessly from present to past to present.
Sep 25, 2008 Maris rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: above ^^
Recommended to Maris by: nobody
This book was fantastic. It really opened my eyes to the 60's and the Vietnam war. I really love it and recommend it to anybody interested in the 60's, the Vietnam war, and hidden identities!
May 07, 2008 Kirsten rated it really liked it
Quite good. Reminds me a bit of Jodi Picoult, a bit of Alice Hoffman, a bit of...maybe Anna Quindlan. Can't wait to read her first book. (And maybe interview her? She's in Denver!)
Mar 28, 2009 Beth marked it as unfinished
(not a bad book, but i lost it for a few weeks and then couldn't get back into it/had other good books to read.)
Oct 03, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it
Great read;characters very believable.The story grabbed me and kept me interested.
Stephnie Ballard
Oct 03, 2008 Stephnie Ballard rated it it was amazing
This book was excellent! The ending was a little weak, but very thought provoking.
Cathy Tracy
Jun 25, 2008 Cathy Tracy rated it really liked it
Loved it. Such a timely story. Enjoyed meeting the author at my bookclub.
Jul 01, 2010 Sus rated it liked it
Author also wrote the Annunciation of Francesca Dunn
Robyn Dones
Nov 19, 2009 Robyn Dones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read in 2008
Vicki marked it as to-read
Jul 17, 2016
Olivia Keener
Olivia Keener marked it as to-read
Jul 09, 2016
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Jun 18, 2016
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Janis Hallowell is a MacDowell Fellow, and her short fiction has been published in Plowshares. She lives in Colorado with her husband and daughter.
More about Janis Hallowell...

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