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Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women Hardcover – May 9, 2017
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One of the Chicago Public Library's Best of the Best Books of 2017”
Winner of the 49th NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work (Biography/Autobiography)
Winner of the 2017 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice
"Valuable . . . [like Michelle] Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Nell Bernstein’s Burning Down the House, and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. But rarely has such a powerful, personal perspective been made available to us. . . . Our understanding of the criminal justice system is immeasurably strengthened by Susan Burton’s fierce, compassionate, and expressive voice."
Los Angeles Review of Books
"Susan Burton is a national treasure . . . her life story is testimony to the human capacity for resilience and recovery . . . [Becoming Ms. Burton is] a stunning memoir."
Nicholas Kristof, in The New York Times
"More than just a memoir, this account provides an intimate glimpse into the problems that plague the U.S. prison system."
"Burton has helped thousands of formerly incarcerated and homeless individuals, and now, by telling her story, she continues to advocate for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity.”
"The book documents Burton’s tireless efforts to effect change―first helping individual women, released from prison with few resources, to make a new start, and then snowballing advocacy efforts at the state and national level to reshape how the United States treats those with criminal records.”
"A dramatic, honest, moving narrative of how hard life can get and how one can still overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity to do good in the world."
"Susan Burton is an angel among us. Her journey is a story of courage, compassion, and conviction. At turns harrowing and inspiring, Becoming Ms. Burton provides a valuable new perspective on the consequences of mass incarceration."
Howard Schultz, executive chairman, Starbucks Coffee Company
"Susan Burton's life and work are a testament to the power of second chances and the impact one person can have on the lives of others. Her book is a stirring and moving tour-de-forcea beautiful inspiration for all of us to continue to fight for justice."
John Legend, actor, singer, and songwriter
"Susan Burton is someone who inspires while she educates. Her powerful and compelling memoir is an unforgettable journey and also an extraordinary light for all who are looking for answers on how we must recover, restore, and redeem those who have been incarcerated. This is a must-read."
Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy
"Becoming Ms. Burton eloquently shows why the voices of formerly incarcerated women must be at the center of efforts to reconstruct the criminal legal system. Too often this nation criminalizes the trauma of black women; Susan Burton exposes this terrible truth by sharing her astounding story of redemption. This is critical reading for champions of justice everywhere."
Monique W. Morris, author of Pushout
"For almost two decades Susan Burton has been a trailblazing advocate for ending mass incarceration, especially as it relates to poor women of color. Becoming Ms. Burton details her remarkable personal transformation as well as the larger structural changes this country must make in order to achieve racial and economic justice. It is essential reading for anyone who cares about these issues."
Daryl V. Atkinson, civil and human rights advocate, lawyer, and member of the Leadership Council of the Formerly Incarcerated Convicted People and Families Movement
"Susan’s life story is one our nation desperately needs to hear and understand. This is a story about personal transformation and collective power. It is about one woman’s journey to freedom, and in the process helping to free us all."
Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
About the Author
Susan Burton is the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, a nonprofit that provides sober housing and other support to formerly incarcerated women. She is nationally known as an advocate for restoring basic civil and human rights to those who have served time. Burton was a winner of AARP’s prestigious Purpose Prize and has been a Starbucks® “Upstander,” a CNN Top 10 Hero, a Soros Justice Fellow, and a Women’s Policy Institute Fellow at the California Wellness Foundation, and she is the co-author, with Cari Lynn, of Becoming Ms. Burton (The New Press). She lives in Los Angeles.
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It's a very engaging read. Well written, although the subject matter is tough in places. I gained an understanding of what many young girls are subjected to and from which there is little hope of escaping. I learned of the inequities of the judicial system and the prison system. Sometimes it was mindboggling how unjust politicians were, but fortunately in several cases Mrs. Burton prevailed. She is an astonishing woman.
Thank you for opening my eyes.