When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

So this was a great futuristic retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. While I’m gonna have to say that was one of my least favorite reads in college, mostly because I’m not a fan of Hawthorne’s writing style, I did really like the plot. Since this revisionist tale keeps the original premise which I liked and switches the language and makes all the icky Puritanisms into icky Fundamentalist Christianisms (which seems far more realistic for today), I found this book far more enjoyable.

Basically, unlike Hester Prynne who had to wear the scarlet letter A on her dress to indicate to all the Puritan prudes that she was an aduleratin’ sinner (as if the presence of her illegitimate daughter wouldn’t have done that for her, but whatever), Hannah Payne revels in her pretty dresses (shocking!) but gets HER SKIN DYED RED by some sort of weird virus as her punishment. Then they keep her locked in this whole glass cell which is broadcast on national TV like some cruel reality show.

Like Hester, Hannah’s babydaddy was the local preacher, but unlike Hester, she keeps his identity secret for very different reasons. Like Hester, Hannah has a baby daughter named Pearl (sorta).  Anyway, long story short, the novel can’t play out like colonial America forever, so it has to make some major plot shifts once Hannah is released. Those parts seem a little less believable and a little too ranty/idealistic for me, but overall the novel was a pretty decent read.


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