Rebecca Coleman’s INSIDE THESE WALLS is absorbing, compelling, incredibly detailed and very well-drawn. It was the sort of story that prompted me to email the author immediately after finishing, so eager was I to express my crazy mixed bag of emotions at everything that came to pass.
Clara is a character you don’t feel you should like (being a convicted killer and all), but we get the sense there’s more to her story than court documents and a sensational Lifetime movie have shown. She’s so empathetic, quiet and introspective that we bond with her immediately, reliving her ill-fated romance with Ricky and getting the saga of their inevitable downfall in bits and pieces. As Clara’s tale unravels, it’s hard not to feel incredibly sad for her. As the story’s narrator, she guides us through the truths and half-truths and lies as she retreads old territory, and I found myself feeling . . . very protective of her.
Given the novel takes place within a prison, it would be easy to tire of Clara’s pinhole world — but Coleman takes us so deeply into the mind and heart of her narrator, I never felt bored or claustrophobic. Quite the opposite, in fact. Through her memories and confessional chats with a friendly Catholic priest, we’re privy to such a complicated, emotional back story that I had to keep reminding myself of all that actually came to pass.
This book was awesome. Up-til-3-a.m. awesome.
Fans of contemporary fiction and prison dramas as well as bold, complicated characters will find much to love in Coleman’s latest. Clara isn’t a character I’ll soon forget, and I love that INSIDE THESE WALLS drops us at the beginning of a new era. I was very satisfied with the ending . . . and only wish I could have stayed with Clara a little longer.