Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chilling Yet Personable Dystopian Novel "When She Woke"

I have almost finished When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, a re-imagining of "The Scarlet Letter" set in the not too distant future, and reminding me a lot at times of Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" and often as disturbing. The reminders the reader gets that the novel is set in the future in our country, such as technological advances and gadgets, do not seem very far fetched at all, and the changes in policy, attitude and law that have pushed society to the situation in the book seem chillingly likely and address many present day political and social concerns. That the book is set mainly in Plano and Dallas, with mentions of familiar places like Oak Lawn, Mockingbird Station, SMU and Garland, only serves to bring it home more strongly to me, a lifelong resident of Dallas-Fort Worth who grew up in Garland. The main character, Hannah Payne, obviously a more modern day sounding nod to Hester Prynne, a young woman who grew up in a loving but very limiting, extremely Christian family and environment, is easy to care about and her emotions, predicament and realizations are very easy to identify with. The book addresses some pretty thorny topics, and I needed to take a little break from my growing apprehension as I approach the end, but it is also well written and engaging. I recommend it.

Hillary Jourdan is the author of Mudbound (2006), a prize-winning, New York Times bestseller. (Which I have not read, but I mean to remedy that soon.).

Thanks to Michelle Rhea for the gift of the book. (I hope you got one for yourself too!)