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When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She Woke

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A shocking and stunning dystopian thriller from the Richard & Judy selected author of Mudbound. The story is set in a very right-wing near future America, where criminals are released back into society, injected with a colour and where abortion is classed as murder. If you liked The Handmaid's Tale this is definitely worth reading and it’s a perfect book for reading groups, as we can imagine some very heated discussions.

If you like Hillary Jordan you might also like to read books by Barbara Kingsolver, Lauren Oliver and Margaret Atwood.


When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned, but the solid, declarative red of a stop sign. An enthralling and chilling novel from the author of MUDBOUND, for fans of THE HANDMAID'S TALE and THE SCARLET LETTER. Hannah Payne's life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes - criminals whose skin colour has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime - is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she's shared a fierce and forbidden love. WHEN SHE WOKE is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future - where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.


'Hillary Jordan channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller. Unputdownable'
Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day

'Not only one of the best books of the year, but it's everything the dystopian genre was made for ... An instant classic for the 21st century'

's Weekly 'A stunning futuristic thriller ... the setup in the first part of the book is excellent, very Handmaid's Tale, the second half is a straight chase and escape tale. The whole thing is stunning.'

'Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm'
Barbara Kingsolver

'Jordan's tautly structured debut ... confronts disturbing truths about America's past with a directness and a freshness of approach that recalls Alice Walker's The Color Purple.'
The Times

'The winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for a novel 'promoting social responsibility,' Hillary Jordan is happily a writer who puts her duty to entertain first' The Independent

About the Author

Hillary Jordan spent fifteen years working as an advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. Her first novel, MUDBOUND, was named one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by Paste Magazine. It won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and awarded biennially to an unpublished debut novel that addresses issues of social justice. Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in Brooklyn.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th August 2012


Hillary Jordan

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Harper an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers


352 pages


Science Fiction
Reading Groups
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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