A Grip of Time


{Thank you, Red Lighting Books via Edelweiss, for the free digital copy to review. All opinions are my own.}

Curious about the lives of inmates and the current prison system of America, Lauren Kessler starts a writing group within the walls of Oregon State Prison (OSP). It takes several years before she gains full clearance inside the prison, but through sheer determination and the help of the employed activities director, Kessler finally gains access to a group of murderers, rapists, and robbers in order to learn more about an inmate’s day-to-day life.

Each chapter presents a new topic or theme that Kessler has the inmates write about. From “A Week in the Life Of…” to “Dreams”, Kessler slowly gains their trust and eventually gets some very well-done pieces of writing. You slowly see how the inmates learn that there is power in their words – their story. Through the “homework” they have each week, they come to some big realizations and truly reflect on their pasts, as well as their futures.

What I loved the most from this book was how Kessler humanized the inmates and gave them a voice. I think it’s easy for society to just write off criminals and bad people, but Kessler reminds us that they are not what they did. Instead, they are people who hurt and worry and try to rehabilitate themselves in the hope that they may someday be released back into society.

Also interspersed throughout the book are facts and statistics about the prison system in general. I found these additions to be complimentary to the overall story and also very educational. I’m no guru on the prison system, but Kessler gave me a lot to think about.

This book was such a pleasant surprise for me. Kessler writes investigative journalism while making it interesting and informative – something I think would be hard to do. Especially about inmates and the prison system! But I really enjoyed this book and learned lots of new stuff in the process!

On Shelves: May 1, 2019


4 thoughts on “A Grip of Time

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