14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
An intriguing read into the mind of a man on the edge of life,
This review is from: Jew in Jail (Kindle Edition)When I was asked to review this book, I was intrigued from the off. I notice that Gary is now a motivational speaker and from reading this book, I am not surprised. The true life story begins with Gary leaving home with a toy gun and a bookie to settle, and it ends with him being sent to prison for multiple robbery!
Gary tells his tale throughout in his own candid way and his voice is one of a strong, very opinionated man. First of all, it is obvious from his crimes that he was heavily under the influence of drink and drugs, and not of sound mind; he is arrested on the street, casually drinking a bottle of Bud, having robbed 3 dry cleaners of their cash to pay off his debt. Not the actions of a hardened criminal, but obviously needing to be punished all the same.
What infuriated me about this was not Gary's actions, (which obviously are inexcusable), but the obvious stitch-up job by the police, his lawyer, and even his Judge. Gary soon finds himself, sober, shocked and in jail on a 7 year prison term. I have to say, I wanted to slap his lawyer on more than one occasion and I am sure I would be part of a long queue.
This book is essentially Gary's prison diaries, he lays it all bare, his addictions, crimes, thoughts, feelings;they are all laid out in the many, many pages of his well edited and produced work.
I loved this book. It is an epic read, but every detail, no matter how small, is necessary to the book to give you a real sense of just what prison is like, and what feelings it stirs up. Gary himself is quite often opinionated, often feeling superior to his cellmates and wardens and this does show in his work. He gets into petty battles over things with the wardens, leading to a high number of Tier tickets for his behaviour. Once such ticket is keeping sugar packets in his dorm, to trade for stamps, as he saves these from his special diet. He amasses a huge amount and one particularly petty officer, Wolf, who I soon detested, went to war with Gary and he lost his sugar. Sound petty? A waste of time? Imagine being in prison, having to ask to shower, phone home, or for a bar of soap. Then see how petty things become.
His little problems become big ones to him in his closed environment and his clever guile and sheer lip at the officers had me howling and air punching in places. His dry sense of humour and elevated sense of self is endearing and makes you turn those pages, to see if he will win this battle.
I have to say that Gary is a well educated Jewish man from New York, comes from a supportive, intelligent loving family - to see himself fall from grace in such a spectacular fashion has Gary spinning on his heels for much of the book, and he never quite makes the connection between what he has done and who he now is, as oppose to his own view of himself.
His father, who hid his medical developments from his son to protect him, dies whilst Gary is a newbie in prison. The Jewish faith means that his father is buried in a very short space of time from death, so Gary is unable to get a pass to the funeral. This destroys Gary, and the hopelessness, guilt and impotence of the situation bleeds from the pages. I cannot imagine any man coping with all that in such a short space of time, but Gary does it and comes out fighting at the other side. Not a feat to be belittled or ignored.
Gary stays clean in prison, even refusing dietary medicine and sets to work, reconnecting with his religion, working on his own case in the law library relentlessly, writing letters, and writing the journal that became this book.
I would recommend this read to anyone, it provoked so many debates in my household that my husband and I are still not speaking (joke!). I guarantee you though, that you will be rooting for Gary to get home to his family and rebuild his life. Not everyone is a lost cause, and Gary Goldstein is living breathing proof. A great cautionary tale for addicts, potential or otherwise that a person from any walk of life can lose their way and find themselves on the edge, looking in, wondering what the hell happened.
Rachel Dove, The Kindle Book Review