Publication Day: 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.

She saw her hands first. She held them in front of her eyes, squinting up at them. For a few seconds, shadowed by her eyelashes and backlit by the hard white light emanating from the ceiling, they appeared black. Then her eyes adjusted, and the illusion faded. She examined the backs, the palms. They floated above her, as starkly alien as starfish . . .”

—from When She Woke


So begins Hillary Jordan’s riveting new novel, When She Woke, publishing today. In the haunting first scene, Hannah Payne wakes up on a table in a bare room, covered by nothing but a flimsy paper gown. Her skin is now red and her every movement is broadcasted live on national television. In this grim vision of America’s not-too-distant future, watching “Chromes”–criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime–has become a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the state of Texas, was her unborn child. Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

In her Bellwether Prize-winning debut, Mudbound, Jordan gave us a stunning recreation of America’s past. Now she returns with a haunting and all-too-familiar vision of America’s future in which faith, love, and sexuality have fallen prey to politics. When She Woke is a powerful re-imagining of The Scarlet Letter, set in an America where the line between church and state no longer exists and criminals are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated, but “chromed” and released back into society to survive as best they can. In Hannah’s attempts to find solace in a hostile world, she unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that will force her to question her country’s values–and her own. When She Woke is both a timely fable of a society that politicizes the personal and a powerful story of one woman’s struggle to reclaim herself.

We’ve set aside three copies for our devoted fans. For a chance to win one, just leave a comment here or on our Facebook page and you’ll be automatically entered!

When She Woke has already garnered rave reviews from critics and booksellers alike.  So far, it’s been:

Check out some of Hillary Jordan’s fantastic reviews below and don’t miss the excerpt at the bottom of this page.

“[A] chilling futuristic novel.”O: The Oprah Magazine

“[A] provocative, politically charged novel… [Hannah’s] journey to reclaim herself is equally chilling and riveting.”—Family Circle

“Jordan’s elegant prose and thrilling plot make for an engrossing read, while her well-structured examination of our Schadenfreude-hungry culture and the precarious position of women’s rights within it make for a thought-provoking one.” —Shelf Awareness

“When She Woke is one of those books I did not want to put down. I read it in one sitting because the story was so desperate and dark and engrossing … It’s a well-paced literary thriller, very engaging.”–Bookslut

“Christian fundamentalists may shun this novel, but book clubs will devour it, and savvy educators will pair it with Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter. Essential.”—Library Journal

“Jordan blends hot-button issues such as separation of church and state, abortion, and criminal justice with an utterly engrossing story, driven by a heroine as layered and magnetic as Hester Prynne herself, and reminiscent, too, of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale (1985). Absolutely a must-read.”—Booklist, starred review

[scribd id=57202596 key=key-142sfnim8ofb2ky75dqp mode=book]

42 Comments On This Post:

October 4, 2011
10:00 am
Tiana Trammell says...

I have been anxiously awaiting the release of this novel. Would LOVE to win a copy!!!

October 4, 2011
10:01 am
Chris says...

Yes! I’ve heard great things about When She Woke. Can’t wait to read it.

October 4, 2011
10:02 am
Margie Hunter says...

What an intriguing premise! I can’t wait to see how this plays out in Ms. Jordan’s book.

October 4, 2011
10:02 am
Debbie Jenkins says...

can’t wait to read it!

October 4, 2011
10:02 am
Hope says...

This sounds like such an interesting concept! I would love to win. 🙂

October 4, 2011
10:03 am
Laura Kay says...

Oh would love love to win and read this one!!!!

October 4, 2011
10:05 am
Vicki says...

So looking forward to reading this! Great to have a chance to get a free copy!

October 4, 2011
10:05 am
Pierre St-Arnault says...

I am not familiar with the author. The book looks interesting. Thanks.

October 4, 2011
10:06 am
Autumn Byers says...

The intro sounds so enticing!!! I hope to have the opportunity to read this soon!

October 4, 2011
10:07 am
Sion Dayson says...

Wow! Sounds amazing! I would love to win a copy!

October 4, 2011
10:10 am
Melyssa says...

This book has been on my to-read list since I first heard about it. Can’t wait to read.

October 4, 2011
10:13 am
Mandy says...

I tend to think that as a general, the quality of modern novels has continually eroded over time and it is rare that I should find one that by merely reading the intro and having no recommendations that I wish to read. However, this book, even going by only the intro, sounds absolutely enthralling and rapturous. I’d be honored to win a copy!

October 4, 2011
10:14 am
Tisa Houck says...

How exciting! Hope I win one!

October 4, 2011
10:15 am
Erin Harwood says...

I read a glowing shelf-talker review for this book at my local indie bookstore and made a mental note at the time to put it on my TBR list. Your bookseller always knows best.

October 4, 2011
10:23 am
Judy B says...

This is a book that I want to read! I would love to win a copy of When She Woke. It sounds riveting!

October 4, 2011
10:23 am
Cindy says...

I have been looking for a great new book for our book discussion group and this looks like a winner.

October 4, 2011
10:32 am
Jane says...

Hillary Jordan’s Mudbound was the summer reading selection at Appalachian State University in 2010, and she spoke at convocation as part of the summer reading program. Reading her book and hearing her speak were unforgettable experiences. While she was in Boone, Ms. Jordan told us a bit about the new book she was working on. Congratulations on the publication of “When She Woke.” I look forward to reading it.

October 4, 2011
10:34 am
carol says...

can NOT wait to read this!

October 4, 2011
10:34 am
Sandra Gail Lambert says...

Pick me, please.

October 4, 2011
10:43 am
cara fielder says...

I have been looking forward to this coming out for what feels like ages, can not wait to read it!

October 4, 2011
10:43 am
rhonda Lomazow says...

can`t wait to read it!!

October 4, 2011
10:43 am
Dee says...

This book is really sound like a good read I hope to win this copy!!! can’t wait!!!

October 4, 2011
10:44 am
Nancy Healy says...

I’d love a copy!

October 4, 2011
10:49 am
Grace says...

I would love to win a copy!

October 4, 2011
10:59 am
Jeffrey Tretin says...

I would love a copy. Sounds great.

October 4, 2011
10:59 am
Charlie Boswell says...

I already read this in arc form, but I gave my arc and rave recommendation to a bookstore buyer. Finally got around to reading MUDBOUND, which is every bit as strong a novel. Ms. Jordan is shaping up to be this genereation’s Sinclair Lewis.
Since I no longer have a copy of WHEN SHE WOKE, which I continue to plug, I would love to win a copy. ‘Course I’ll buy one if I don’t win one of your three.

October 4, 2011
11:39 am
Lisa McCombs says...

I’ve never won a book. Please be my first victory:)

October 4, 2011
11:54 am
Joan Lipson says...

sounds intriguing and I would love to win a copy

October 4, 2011
12:02 pm
Mary Prewitt says...

I absolutely loved Mudbound. Hillary Jordan is so talented. I can’t wait to read this novel. I’d love to win a copy!

October 4, 2011
12:03 pm
Tess Patalano says...

Wow, would love to win!

October 4, 2011
12:06 pm
James says...

Would LOVE a copy…sounds like an incredible read!

October 4, 2011
12:37 pm
Muzette says...

What a great plot! Sounds like a great read!

October 4, 2011
1:03 pm
Kats says...

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this book, even prior to publication. We’re introducing genre months in our book group, and the month of January will be dystopian fiction; “When she woke” will be one of my shortlisted suggestions, and I hope the other group members will pick it because I can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

October 4, 2011
1:31 pm
matkeltri says...

Sounds great!

October 4, 2011
2:07 pm
Anhoni Patel says...

I keep on hearing about this book. It ‘s getting a ton of positive buzz.
I’m sold; my ears are perked and it’s now on my to-read list!

October 4, 2011
2:11 pm
Faydra says...

I really want to read this book!

October 4, 2011
2:12 pm
Tammee says...

Sounds exciting, count me in…

October 4, 2011
3:34 pm
mep says...

Big fan of Hawthorne and The Scarlet Letter — would love to read When She Woke with that favorite text in mind!

October 4, 2011
6:31 pm
Van Pittsenbargar says...

An engrossing read, to be sure. Can’t wait to get a copy!

October 5, 2011
7:55 am
Nadia says...

Sounds like such a great read! Count me in 🙂

October 10, 2011
9:57 pm
Joanne says...

This sounds like a fascinating novel. I would certainly read it.

October 18, 2011
4:16 pm
Mary Parker says...

I cant wait to read this reinterpretation of The Scarlet Letter. I love books!

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