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Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 8, 2016
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"[A] harrowing [portrait] of life behind bars . . . Gritty, visceral . . . Senghor writes about the process of atonement and the possibility of redemption, and talks of his efforts to work for prison reforms that might turn a system designed to warehouse into one aimed at rehabilitation."
–Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“My first glance at the person on the book's cover—a dreadlocked, tattooed, heavyset black male—left me skeptical. Full of judgment. Why should I be interested in the story of a murderer? But as [Senghor's] words unfolded, so did my understanding—of what it means to fall short, to go astray, to lose your way . . . His story touched my soul.”
–O: The Oprah Magazine
"[A] powerful memoir."
“No one has forced us to look at the core questions about humanity and our broken criminal justice system with more authenticity and clarity than Senghor . . . If Senghor’s tale is any indication, redemption, mercy and grace aren’t just emotional ideals or spiritual buzzwords. They are the sharp, effective tools that can be used to rebuild lives and communities, one person at a time.”
–Erica Williams Simon, TIME.com
“Probably the most important book I've read in the past few years . . . Few people, sadly, come out on the end of two decades of hard time and find their way back to the life Shaka is now leading. Here, he tells us why that is, and why it doesn't have to stay that way.”
–Shaun King, New York Daily News
“Senghor’s story, laid bare, forces us to ask: is this not our fellow human being? Does he not deserve a second chance? If he failed himself in the most profound way, how did the rest of us fail him too?”
“Extraordinary . . . You will reconsider everything you’ve ever thought about poverty, the prison industrial complex and the connection between the two.”
“[An] inspiring book that gives hope for those who believe in the redemption of the incarcerated . . . Not the usual ghetto tale.”
"An extraordinary, unforgettable book. Writing My Wrongs is a necessary reminder of the deep humanity, vulnerability and potential that lies within each one of us, including those we view as 'thugs' or 'criminals'. Shaka's story illustrates that if we muster the courage to love those who do not yet love themselves, a new world is possible."
–Michelle Alexander, professor of law, Ohio State University, bestselling author of The New Jim Crow
“Shaka Senghor's terrific and inspiring book affirms that we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. This beautiful and compelling story of recovery and redemption offers all of us powerful truths and precious insights as we seek recovery from decades of over-incarceration and excessive punishment.”
–Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of Just Mercy
“A profound story of neglect, violence, discovery, redemption and inspiration. Consistently touching and surprising, Writing My Wrongs is, ultimately, deeply hopeful. Prepare to have your preconceptions shattered.”
–J.J. Abrams, director, writer, producer
"Shaka Senghor is a once-in-a-generation leader, championing a cause that will define a generation: mass incarceration. Behind prison walls, Writing My Wrongs is already taking its place alongside the memoirs of Malcolm X and George Jackson as must-read literature. In the broader society, its publication will propel him into the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander—powerful visionaries whose words are shaking the foundations of our nation's understanding of itself."
–Van Jones, CNN contributor, bestselling author of Rebuild the Dream and The Green Collar Economy
“I basically read this book in one sitting and wouldn’t shut up about it for months. People would say to me, ‘Good morning. How are you today?’ And I’d just start talking about atonement and solitary confinement and recidivism. Shaka’s book reminds us of the great imperfections that remain in our nation, but his determination to move from community liability to asset reminds us that no life should be written off. We need this story. It isn’t pretty, but it is beautiful.”
–Baratunde Thurston, supervising producer, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, bestselling author of How To Be Black
"Essential reading for anyone who believes in the deeply spiritual and transformational power of redemption. Our nation must confront this concept to reach our own promise as a country. No matter who you are or where you've come from, this book holds strong, inspiring lessons and shows that the difficult pathway to redemption can bear abundant fruit for many. In the end we are all, no matter our path, more powerful agents of service than we realize."
–U.S. Senator Cory Booker
“If you’ve wondered what makes it possible for good people to do terrible things, and what a man can endure to reach redemption, then you must read this book. Senghor’s story is told with brutal self-assessment and tender attention to what makes profound change – in a person and also in our communities – not only possible but imperative. In this unforgettable memoir, Shaka takes us from the streets of Detroit into solitary confinement in prison, and against all odds, home safely and successfully to a family and community that needs him.”
–Piper Kerman, bestselling author of Orange is the New Black
"More than the proverbial 'We Fall Down/We Get Up' story. It’s a testament to the power of the mind, and the fact that none of us should ever be defined by our lowest point."
–Detroit Metro Times
“Delivered with a stark realism that is only occasionally relieved by humor and the bizarre characters [Senghor] encounters.”
-Herb Boyd, Amsterdam News
“Senghor's fearless self-reflection serves as a cautionary tale for the young and a guidebook for anyone seeking atonement. His lessons about owning your failures and taking accountability resonate in every walk of life, from the streets to the boardroom.”
–Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments
“Writing My Wrongs is a gritty, no-holds-barred look inside the degrading world of American’s prisons and the inspiring story of how one man overcame the biggest obstacle—himself—to reclaim his life. Shaka’s painful journey from callous street thug to compassionate community activist is a roadmap for those who believe in the power of redemption.”
–Maurice Ashley, American chess grandmaster, author of Chess for Success
About the Author
Shaka Senghor, a member of Oprah's SuperSoul 100, is a writer, mentor, and motivational speaker whose story of redemption has inspired thousands. While serving 19 years in prison, Senghor discovered redemption and responsibility through literature, his own writing, and the kindness of others. He is the author of six books, a former Director’s Fellow at the MIT Media Lab, a Community Leadership Fellow with the Kellogg Foundation, and the founder of The Atonement Project, which helps victims and violent offenders heal through the power of the arts. He currently serves as the Director of Strategy and Innovation with #cut50, a bipartisan initiative to safely and smartly reduce the U.S. prison population in half by 2025, and speaks regularly at high schools, prisons, churches, and universities around the country.
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Top customer reviews
Writing My Wrongs is about the power of hope, change, and redemption. It sheds light on the gritty reality of prison and the truth of mass incarceration.
An important, poignant and powerful book, which should get the hands of every youth in public schools, detention centers, and prisons across America.
*** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
And then there’s Shaka Senghor.
He's the epitome of “second chances”. Anyone can say they’re redeemed, but actions truly speak louder than words -- and in his latest book, “Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison”, proves that seeking a second chance takes perseverance and crazy, unwavering faith.
In this novel, Shaka writes an honest portrayal of his childhood leading to his nineteen years in prison. The descriptive details through page after page is extraordinarily raw, conveying prison life only a former inmate could do.
If you work with kids, or a community activist, or just enjoy a great read, this book is for you! Moreover, Senghor’s prolific storytelling will move you to think deeper about self-worth and overcoming challenges when hope is all you have.
In other words, grab your copy today!
I think my favorite part is he includes a recommended reading list towards the end of the book...wish more authors did this to show what other authors inspired them.
Most recent customer reviews
The message that your deeds don't define who you are resonates triumphantly at the end.