Sneak Peek: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

We’re excited to give you an early look at Hillary Jordan’s novel When She Woke, landing in bookstores on October 4th. (Read an excerpt at the very bottom of this post.) It’s already garnered a significant amount of pre-publication buzz, thanks to an overwhelming response from booksellers (see some of their blurbs below) and a great deal of fanfare at Book Expo America.

“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




From the author whose international bestseller, Mudbound, so hauntingly re-created America’s past comes a stunning creation of America in the near future, where faith, love, and sexuality have fallen prey to politics.

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, and cameras are broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for home observing new Chromescriminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crimeis a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, says the state of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the fathera public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

When She Woke is a stunning story 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 released back into the population after being “chromed.” 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 has held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes the personal.


Praise from Booksellers

“I can’t wait to put When She Woke into everybody’s hands. Bravo to Hilary Jordan. “ —Roberta Rubin, The Bookstall at Chestnut Court, Winnetka, IL

When She Woke is a masterpiece . . . It is powerful, compelling, sensitive, and poignant. I read it in one sitting.” —Bill Cusumano, Nicola’s Books, Ann Arbor, MI

“Be prepared to lose sleep over the too-close-to-reality aspects of this beautifully written novel. Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke delves and connects and exposes in profound ways.” —Dana Brigham, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

“A novel that will inspire a provocative discussion among readers.” —Michele Filgate, McNally Jackson Books, New York, NY

When She Woke is a page turner. Just as Jordan so beautifully wrote about the injustice and tragedies of racism in America in her last novel, Mudbound, she now artfully exposes the injustices and heartbreak caused by religious extremism that, as she demonstrates in When She Woke, can arise from any rigid doctrine, even in heartland America.” —Cathy Langer, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver, CO

“Wow! What a read! When She Woke has everything good and delicious that one wants in a book: great characters, steady plotting, and a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching, compelling, and unsettling story.” —Melinda Powers, Capitola Book Café, Capitola, CA

“I’m gobsmacked! When She Woke is riveting from page one.” —Emily Crowe, The Odyssey Bookshop, South Hadley, MA

“There’s no doubt that When She Woke is an intense book!” —Jenn Northington, Word, Brooklyn, NY

“Put this one on your book club list, because everyone is going to want to discuss it.” —Valerie Koehler, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

When She Woke reads like a really good movie. It’s a transformational, awakening story disguised as a fast-paced thriller.” —Debra Linn, Books & Books, Bal Harbour, FL

“I found myself telling everyone I met about When She Woke—the story is that compelling.” —Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop, Mendocino, CA

“Hillary Jordan is one of our most important political writers, and When She Woke is a very brave work.” —Lucy Kogler, Talking Leaves Books, Buffalo, NY


We can’t wait to hear what you think. Talk to us on Twitter and Facebook or leave a comment here.

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



51 Comments On This Post:

June 27, 2011
10:10 am
Jill Hartmann says...

Sounds good – would love a copy to read!

June 27, 2011
10:12 am
Jane McCown says...

I loved,loved,loved Mudbound! Would be great to win this book!

June 27, 2011
10:13 am
Ronna Hamelin says...

This sounds like a must-read!!

June 27, 2011
10:15 am
Susan Schleicher says...

ooooh – this book sounds amazing. Kind of like The Scarlet Letter of the future. Yep, this one just went on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance to get an early copy!

June 27, 2011
10:16 am
Jill G says...

Excited to check it out!

June 27, 2011
10:24 am
Cat K. says...

I am really excited about this book, and my husband had been talking about it too! Can’t wait to read!

June 27, 2011
10:26 am
Lisa K says...

I love dystopian literature. Sounds great and would love to win!

June 27, 2011
10:28 am
The Loopy Librarian says...

Wow! Sounds fascinating and thought-provoking. I would love to win a copy!

June 27, 2011
10:30 am
Catherine says...

Wow, this sounds like The Scarlet Letter meets The Handmaid’s Tale. I’d love to read this as soon as possible!

June 27, 2011
10:34 am
Wendy says...

Ooooh, this one looks really good. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy 🙂

June 27, 2011
10:35 am
James says...

Sounds incredibly interesting…would love to win a copy!

June 27, 2011
10:36 am
Jeffrey Tretin says...

sounds great. Thanks for the chance to read and advise my book club!

June 27, 2011
10:36 am
megan says...

Love the concept. Can’t wait until the book is out as well. How do you end a story like this one?

June 27, 2011
10:38 am
Bunny Cates says...

Sounds great! Would love to win a copy. Good luck everyone!

June 27, 2011
10:43 am
Lindsay cummings says...

Want!! :0 this sounds great!!

June 27, 2011
10:44 am
Lynne B says...

Have been hearing the buzz about this book. I would love a copy to review!

June 27, 2011
10:51 am
Ben Bailey says...

Awesome. Sounds like a great read.

June 27, 2011
11:05 am
Tanya says...

Looking forward to reading it!

June 27, 2011
11:07 am
Leslie says...

Her last book took me by surprise, I didn’t expect such a great storyteller. I’ve been waiting for the next one ever since and would appreciate being able to read this one sooner. Please pick me!

June 27, 2011
11:27 am
Cynthia says...

Sounds like just what the doctor ordered for this long hot summer!

June 27, 2011
11:42 am
roc_phd says...

I’m new to this website and really love checking it out regularly. Sounds like a great book!

June 27, 2011
12:08 pm
Julie Zeller says...

I loved MUDBOUND, so I am excited about this book.

June 27, 2011
12:37 pm
Kizzy says...

I can hardly wait to read this book, it sounds wonderful!

June 27, 2011
1:31 pm
Jessica M. says...

I am really looking forward to When She Woke, it just sounds absolutely amazing and the premise sounds chilling. I can’t wait to read it!

June 27, 2011
1:36 pm
Linda says...

WOW… I’ve been hearing about this book for a while now, and I have it on my “Must Read” list.

June 27, 2011
1:50 pm
Anjelica Whitehorne says...

I’m really excited to read this! Jordan’s writing is incredible, and the first piece of the story seems as though she’s created an incredible world for her readers.

June 27, 2011
2:26 pm
Teresa says...

I’ve been intrigued by this one since I first saw it. Would love to have a chance to read it.

June 27, 2011
2:29 pm
Dana Burgess says...

Sounds like a great book. LOVE the cover!

June 27, 2011
2:56 pm
Pam Straus says...

Sounds intriguing! Can hardly wait to read it.

June 27, 2011
4:26 pm
Rebecca says...

I have been digging this book ever since I first heard about it! Would love to win one of the review copies!

June 27, 2011
4:32 pm
Lovely Treez says...

Sounds intriguing – I loved Mudbound and this one sounds even better, straight onto the wishlist it goes!

June 27, 2011
5:01 pm
Bren McClain says...

Finally — a political writer with something important to say. Or rather, ASK.

June 27, 2011
9:56 pm
Diana Quincy says...

What an original and spine-tingling concept. I treasure books that entertain AND make us think. This theme reminds me a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale, which really resonated with me. I’d love to win an ARC of When She Woke!

June 28, 2011
12:46 am
Megan Radford says...

An interesting conception of crime and how we view criminals-not as something that can be overcome, but something that brands the criminal for life. I can’t wait to read it!

June 28, 2011
2:31 pm
Van Pittsenbargar says...

Amazing concept – futuristic adaptation of “Scarlet Letter” genre. Definitely will be at the top of my list of reading for now! Thanks for the glimpse of this must read. Appreciate all your newcomers to suspense thrillers!

June 28, 2011
5:50 pm
Cully Perlman says...

First lines remind me of Gregor Samsa awakening…

Let the transformation begin.

June 29, 2011
9:59 am
Gayle Lin says...

This sounds so good. It’s on my to-read list, whether or not I win it.

June 29, 2011
11:25 am
Leslie says...

I too thought of The Handmaids’s Tale when I read the description. This is going on my to-read list.

June 29, 2011
11:33 am
Wendy Wishon says...

Sounds like quite an unusual idea. Combo of Kafka and King maybe? Can’t wait to read it!

June 29, 2011
11:42 am
Pam S. says...

Looks good!

June 29, 2011
11:49 am
Faydra says...

A futuristic Scarlet Letter? Sounds interesting – would love to read.

June 29, 2011
12:12 pm
jb says...

can’t wait to read this one —

June 29, 2011
12:28 pm
Shannon says...

This sounds so interesting! Can’t wait to read it!!

July 2, 2011
9:10 am
Lin says...

Between our insatiable appetite for voyeuristic reality tv and a slow erosion of our rights this could be the a look into the near future? Would love to find out!

July 3, 2011
2:08 am
Tiffany D. says...

This looks like a definite page turner, I would love to give it a read!

July 3, 2011
11:09 pm
Kathleen says...

I just read Mudbound, and this sounds really great! Hoping…:)

July 4, 2011
3:05 am
Hira Hasnain (Enamored Soul) says...

I absolutely LOVED “Mudbound” by Hillary Jordan, and “The Scarlet Letter” by Hawthorne is amongst my favorites. So, this book is DEFINITELY going towards the top of my to-read list (actually, it already is, on Goodreads!). I cannot WAIT to get my hands on a copy, read and review it! 😀

July 4, 2011
7:51 pm
Gayle Lin says...

This sounds so good that I can hardly wait. What a talented writer and an unusual topic … leads to a movie, I’ll bet!

July 6, 2011
3:04 pm
Ann Stevens says...

Mudbound has been Number 1 on my recommendation list for customers at the Brewster Bookstore and friends, and I’m so excited to read when she wrote.

July 14, 2011
3:27 pm
Jeannie Phillips says...

Loved Mudbound!! It was the book I chose four our book club last year and we included a field trip to hear the author speak at a local bookstore. My month to host in Nov. 2011 and I would LOVE to name this the book for our club that month. An advance copy would be an awesome boost to my plans. I can’t wait to read it!

July 14, 2011
3:30 pm
Jeannie Phillips says...

Oops four = for below. (insert red face here!) Apologize for the use of in instead of is as well. Man, gotta take 1 minute to proofread this stuff. Good thing I’m an avid reader and not a writer.

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