WHEN SHE WOKE
By Hillary Jordan
If THE HANDMAIDS TALE and THE SCARLET LETTER were to have a child it most certainly would be this wonderful book, WHEN SHE WOKE. This well written book captures you with the opening scene of a young woman lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown while being televised to millions of homes.
Hannah Payne’s life had been devoted to church and family all her life until she shared a fierce and forbidden love with a very public figure. When she became pregnant, she had an abortion. The future state of Texas has become a dystopian society where the lines between church and state have been eradicated. An abortion is a major crime and the mother is guilty of the sin of murder. The punishment for a murder verdict is that the guilty are forced to become a Chrome. A Chrome is a criminal whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the offense. Since the crime of murder carries the harshest punishment, the color that represents murder is RED. Hannah becomes a red chrome. There are also yellow and green Chromes who have committed lesser crimes. Chromes have cameras broadcasting their every move to millions of homes as a sinister form of entertainment.
When the Chromes have served their time, they are released back into society where they must learn how to survive any way they can in a hostile and alien world. When Hannah reenters that world, she must begin a journey of self discovery, and question the values she once treasured.
This is a marvelous read that fringes on the edge of science fiction, but always feels authentic and resonates with a realism that says things like this could happen.