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  • Shea Robinson

When She Woke Book Review

Updated: Mar 23


Category: Apple Blossom-a story that seduces you + Freesia

Genre: Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

This is the 21st century The Scarlet Letter. This is the pigmented Unwind. This is The Handmaid’s Tale with agency. This is Fahrenheit 451 if the firemen were genetic biologists and V for Vendetta if Evie was V. I’m pretty sure when Jonas denounced his role as The Giver, he took to the Starless Sea, finding his good fortune and raising his granddaughter, Hannah.


When She Woke was given to me by my college Philosophy TA seven years ago. I had spent many afternoons in her office on the pretense of getting help on my paper, but we would always end up talking about books. At the end of the quarter, she surprised me with this book. I was touched that someone who wasn’t a personal friend would spend the time or money to give me such a gift. And I was floored to find the book was as good as she said.


The plot is simple. We live in a world where criminals have their skins dyed to match the crime: red for felon, yellow for misdemeanor, blue and green for other crimes. This stoplight world of people should be enough to entice you. Perhaps what you need to know is that Hannah Payne (not Hester Prynne) is branded with red skin (not a red “A”) after aborting the baby (not carrying the baby) she had with a married man, because she is protecting their love and the fact that he is the town’s pastor. The title is also the first line of the novel: “When she woke, she was red.” Do you have chills, yet? Good. Now go get your copy at Crawford's Books.

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