In polite conversation, the idea of dyeing nonviolent criminals bright colors and releasing them into society might not be met with raised...moreApril says:
In polite conversation, the idea of dyeing nonviolent criminals bright colors and releasing them into society might not be met with raised voices and ill-disguised disgust in one's political views. But this is the near-future America portrayed in "When She Woke" by Hilary Jordan. Because prisons are overflowing, it becomes acceptable to dye (to "chrome") the skin of those who committed nonviolent crimes and are not likely to repeat them again. America has swung so far to the right that a Secretary of Faith now sits on the President's Cabinet.
This is the life Hannah Payne has known: terrorist attacks, rabid religious conservatives, and chromed citizens. And the world is okay until she comes to find herself in a place where she is a Chrome, an outsider, a new level of second class citizen.
"When She Woke" is a haunting view of an American future not too hard to imagine. With strong characters and a convincing geography of the human soul, Jordan has created a solid representation of a new kind of Big Brother.
"When She Woke" is a page turner. Just as Jordan so beautifully wrote about the injustice and tragedies of racism in America in her last novel, Mudbound, she now artfully exposes the injustices and heartbreak caused by religious extremism that, as she demonstrates in "When She Woke", can arise from any rigid doctrine, even in heartland America.
I just finished reading this book, and I am amazed. It's topics are sooooo "right now":religious fundamentalism, women's rights, reproductive rights, the struggle to managecrime and the situation in prisons, the roll of technology in controlling people and theprivacy issues that go along with that. This book is going to create a STIR--I foresee protests and outrage countered by admiration and passionate defense of the sublime way all of these volatile elements are joined to create a love story as well as a page-turning thriller. The continued exploration of what it means to be "good", and themany roles God can take in people's lives, is brilliant. A great deal of philosophy, theology and social science are included in this book, but it doesn't seem preachy or didactic. It seems like, and IS, an amazing book that is impossible to put down.(less)
Victoria spent her whole childhood in the foster system, if you could call it a childhood. She is filled with guilt, mistrust and desires...moreJackie says:
Victoria spent her whole childhood in the foster system, if you could call it a childhood. She is filled with guilt, mistrust and desires only solitude when she "ages out" of the system. The one thing that she knows and loves is flowers, and the Victorian language that is based on them. She uses that knowledge to gain a job at a florist, who takes her under her wing and opens the world of possibilities that Victoria never had any access to before and still doesn't trust. Throughout the book we find this reluctant, damaged flower bloom into a woman with a family and a future. This is a wonderful, hopeful, intense read that really tugged at my heart. This is Diffenbaugh's debut novel, which makes it even more impressive. I urge all of you to read it, and I will be definitely eagerly waiting for more from this very talented writer (and foster mother, so she truly knows the foster system that she is describing in this book). (less)
This book, Phillips' debut novel, came out last year on Hawthorne Books, which has now belongs to Penguin, who will be re-releasing it som...moreJackie says:
This book, Phillips' debut novel, came out last year on Hawthorne Books, which has now belongs to Penguin, who will be re-releasing it sometime in the not too distant future. And well they should--this is a marvelous novel. Set in 1931 in Carbon Hill, Alabama, this book is more of a snapshot of life in a southern coal town than anything else. There is a bit of a mystery--a nine year old girl sees an unfamiliar woman throw a baby in a well on night--but it's biggest asset is the wonderful, detailed and delightful character development throughout the book. It centers on a family--Albert, who has mined coal his whole life; Leta, his hardworking and kindhearted wife; Virgie, the couple's teenage daughter whose beauty terrifies her parents; Tess, the middle child who is 9 and longing for adventure; and Jack, the ornery 7 year old little brother of the family. In some ways this reminds me a great deal of The Waltons, but the depth of the characters and the carefully crafted atmosphere transcend that similarity by light years. I was left aching for more when the last page was turned. I'm going to miss this family. And I'm going to watch out for Gin Phillips books--she's going to be an amazing southern voice in literary fiction.
***Unchain Yourself! Look for this great book at your local independent bookstore. There is a store finder at indiebound.org***(less)