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Tag: hillary jordan

YA Lit, Roe v. Wade, and the Future of Girls’ Bodies

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Photo by Flickr user gtall1

It’s hard to believe that it’s been forty years since Roe v. Wade– forty years of continuous discussion, dissension, and dramatic debate on both sides of the issue. And the conversation is hardly over; earlier this year Wendy Davis made filibustering history and just last month the Women’s Health Protection Act was introduced into Congress. Given the prominence of women’s reproductive rights in the news today, it is no wonder that YA literature is also tackling this highly controversial topic.

when she woke hillary jordan coverThe books examined below can all trace their thematic heritage back to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, but Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke (2012 Amelia Bloomer List) is the most obvious successor to this seminal work on women’s reproductive rights.  A reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, the book is set in a future theocratic American where abortion is illegal and women who are found guilty are charged with murder. Crimes are punished by a method called “chroming” wherein one’s skin is genetically altered to become a color that correlatesto the crime committed. The novel follows the story of Hannah Prynne who becomes pregnant after a steamy affair with a celebrity preacher. Her decision to abort the fetus and keep her lover’s identity secret results in an engaging, albeit disquieting, tale of the limitations of love, the effects of criminalizing abortion, and ultimately one woman’s quest for independence.

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Crossing Over Into the Brave New World of Adult Dystopian Fiction

Dystopian fiction. It’s everywhere — filling the local bookstore’s window displays, crowding the public library shelves, and invading Hollywood with an onslaught of recent novel-to-film adaptations. And as an avid reader and recommender of young adult literature, I’ve noticed a few distinct reactions to this particular trend among my fellow YA fiction fans. I like to divide these responses into three categories:

  1. Resource Exhaustion: “I’ve read everything from The Hunger Games to Wither and the new Veronica Roth book isn’t out yet. What do I read now?!”
  2. Rebellion: “I’ve never found dystopian stories interesting, and popular trends are not going to change my mind!”
  3. Disillusionment: “I like dystopian fiction but I feel like it’s getting a bit repetitive. I mean, once you’ve read a few, haven’t you read them all?”

Now, I’ve experienced all of these reactions over the last couple years, but luckily dystopian fiction hasn’t just been growing in the world of young adult lit. There have been exciting dystopian tales appearing on adult fiction shelves that are as thrilling and thought-provoking as their young adult counterparts. So whether readers are suffering from futuristic fiction fatigue or are desperate for a fresh fix of dystopian adventure, one of these titles is sure to please.

when she woke hillary jordan coverWhen She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2012 Amelia Bloomer List)
Fans of reimagined classics or imaginative explorations of religion, sexuality, and gender should pick up this Scarlet Letter-inspired dystopian tale. The story focuses on Hannah Payne, a former obedient daughter and church member who has been found guilty of abortion in a future America where the lines between church and state have all but disappeared. She has been sentenced to sixteen years as a Red, her skin biologically dyed bright scarlet, marking her a convicted murderer in the eyes of the public. Rejected by her family and thrown back into a hostile society, Hannah wrestles with her past choices and struggles to survive in her frightening new reality. Exploring the same themes charted by Hawthorne through the powerful story of one woman’s personal awakening, Jordan crafts an exciting and haunting vision of the future.