Hillary Jordan's When She Woke takes place in a not-too-distant United States where life is at a premium, valued above a woman's right to choose whether or not to continue her pregnancy. The premise is eerily believable; one can easily envision the circumstances under which abortions become illegal in the future. When She Woke does what good dystopian literature should: demonstrate where a minor alteration or two in current policies can lead if taken to extremes. The novel also recalls the country's Puritanical past when punishment included public shaming by the community, and Jordan's vision of that humiliation is original and riveting. Much of the plot's appeal is that it all seems so possible; it requires very little imagination to believe that the events depicted could come to pass without much current political or social change.
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