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Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution (Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters) Paperback – February 3, 2004
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Those collected here are disturbing and horrific. They reveal, often in graphic detail, the worst kind of abuse: incest, drug addiction, spousal violence, parental neglect, or incompetence. They're also testimony to what social workers and health care professionals have confirmed for years--that those who populate our prisons are often victims first themselves. Thus, the telling of these stories serves as a form of therapy. They are also sad accounts of the brutalities many suffer, yet few discuss: "One day I figured out a dying little girl lived inside of me, so I threw her a lifeline in the form of paper and pen." Considering the degradation the contributors have experienced both in and outside prison, the courage, candor, and honesty with which they speak truly make these stories, as difficult as they are to read, "victories against voicelessness--miracles in print." --Silvana Tropea --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The women's stories are uniformly heartbreaking; nearly all the authors were victims of sexual abuse. Nearly all grew up poor. Nearly all had minimal or questionable parental support. And about half wrote about abusive romantic relationships. Several of the authors are in prison for killing their abusive spouse and/or significant other. While it was wrong for them to take their husband's lives, it is also understandable once you read their harrowing tales.
I was especially moved by Bonnie Foreshaw's "Faith, Power and Pants" and Diane Bartholomew's "Snapshots of my former life." Both went from unbearable childhoods to atrocious marriages. Both are clearly angry with a system that has failed them. Yet both write of finding hope despite all the indignities life has thrown at them. As a final indignity, Bartholomew developed cancer while writing her memoir. Only then was she paroled for the murder of her abusive husband. It is clear that she was only paroled because the State of Connecticutt did not want to pay her chemotherapy bills.
This book can be harrowing to read but it left me with a sense of hope. Beautiful women exist underneath the prison fatigues, who have survived despite the brutal conditions of the penitentiary system. Each story in this collection moved me in a different way. I can say that about very few books.
In the past, especially being a social worker, I've read many stories about every possible life situation, but I have never read anything like this book. By the end of each story I felt a real sense of kinship and sisterhood with that story's author. I find it impossible to choose which is the most thought-provoking or well-written.
If this book is typical of Wally Lamb's ability to teach and to give of his heart, then I believe he is not only brilliant but the kind of mentor other incarcerated people need working with them. Thank goodness they couldn't keep it to themselves!
What I read was a collection of powerful stories written about life experiences prior to criminal behavior forming, of lessons learned, responsibility taken, sadness, remorse, and plans for living differently in the future. I read stories of hope, despite tragic past errors.
Reading this book caused me to think about things I don't often think about. I now realize that anyone who has ever driven under the influence of alcohol, used a drug to numb emotional pain, or been involved in an abusive relationship should not judge because they might easily end up with some of the same problems, actions, and consequences; this would include many of my friends and myself as well.
It took a great deal of willingness, courage and hard work to delve so deeply into painful issues, then to expose the most intimate details of their explorations to each other and also to the reading public. Perhaps some non-incarcerated individuals will read this book and think about working up the same courage and willingness to take action concerning their own situations before it becomes to late for them too.
One writer states: "Hope is a miracle that can become contageous." This woman has been out of prison for over a decade now and has fully turned her life around; she has walked away from an abusive marriage, graduated from college, and now works in the field of human services. She also is a tutor of college English for disadvantaged individuals. Kudos to Mr. Lamb for caring enough to help her, and apparantly he did so PRIOR to beginning his current workshop at YORK.
Shouldn't that be one of the relative points of a prisoner's experience, to learn lessons and to change so when a sentence is over, neither they or those around them will continue being wronged or hurt in the future?
Perhaps instead of criticizing Wally Lamb, we in society need to take a closer look at his theory concerning therapeutic writing and his teaching style. Other prisons and ultimately the world outside of prisons might greatly benifit by following his lead.