Completion Date: September 14, 2011
Reason for Reading: The very nice Stephanie from Stephanie's Written Word sent me her spare copy, so we both read it and now we are reviewing it on the same day.
In the mid–21st century, a young woman in Texas awakens to a nightmare: her skin has been genetically altered, turned bright red as punishment for the crime of having an abortion.This is the first time I have read a book with Stephanie and it was equally fun that she was so nice to send me the book. It was on my list to get as soon as I could, so I was thrilled to get it early. One of my favourite classics of all time is The Scarlet Letter, so when I heard that this one was being compared to it; then I knew I was going to have to read it. I have to say that compared to the other Dystopian novels that are popular at the moment, this is one topic that has always freaked me out a bit. I hate the idea of living in a world where you do not have the right to your own body. That is not to say what I would do if ever faced with an unwanted pregnancy, but I do believe that there should be a choice. I do not believe it should be a crime. So, the Scarlet Letter, The Handmaid's Tale, and other books of the same nature just freak me out.Inspired by The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke depicts an American dystopia where terrorist attacks, natural disasters and a pandemic causing infertility have swung the country to the far right, and convicted criminals are “chromed” according to the nature of their crime and then released. A stigmatized woman in a hostile and frightening world, Hannah Payne must seek a path northward to safety. Her perilous journey becomes one of self-discovery and transfiguration as she realizes that faith, love and sexuality are not just political. They’re personal.
Mudbound, Hillary Jordan’s first novel (a national bestseller in the U.S. and the U.K. and a local bestseller in Canada), won the 2006 Bellwether Prize and a 2009 Alex Award from the American Library Association. Longlisted for the 2009 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, Mudbound was also the 2008 NAIBA (New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association) Fiction Book of the Year. Additionally, it was a Barnes & Noble Discover pick, Borders Original Voices selection, Book Sense Pick and Waterstone’s New Voices pick.
In this book we follow the character Hannah Payne. The world has gone through some troubling times and there was a pandemic that left women infertile. When the cure was eventually found and the population began to increase again, it still left a world of women who would do basically anything for a child of their own. Then we have people like Hannah who for whatever reason decide that they do not want to keep the child they are carrying. On the one hand, I can understand that it is not an easy thing to not be able to have a child and then to have these women who can have children terminate the pregnancy. I just don't think the law should make the decision for them. Just my opinion. I don't really want to start a big debate because I know it is a subject that people are very passionate about.
Moving on. Hannah was caught have an illegal abortion. In her society this is illegal and the punishment is a period of time served in jail viewable by the public and then living life as a chrome. Chroming is a sort of best described as skin dye. There are different colours depending on the severity of the crime and then the amount of time you have to live as a chrome is determined by the court decision. Hannah refused to admit who the father of the child was and this meant added time on her sentence. When the book opens Hannah has just woken up for her first day as a Chrome. As the book progresses, though, it has flashbacks to earlier times so that the reader can understand how Hannah became who she is when we first meet her and how she makes the decisions she does in the future. It is a very compelling read because you also get a chance to watch Hannah grow as a person. She has grown up in a very religious community that had very strict guidelines on life was meant to be lived. Suddenly Hannah is a Chrome and treated differently. She has to fend for herself and lots of interesting things happen as a result. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I was going to like Hannah, but she always managed to interest me.
This book was a page-turner. I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. There were a few things that didn't entirely work for me, but nothing major. They were meant for the story and so they can't really be faulted. I hope if you get a chance you will give this book a read. I am happy that I did!