25 August, 2014

Book Review: Couldn't Keep it to Myself

From Goodreads: In a stunning work of insight and hope, New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb once again reveals his unmatched talent for finding humanity in the lost and lonely and celebrates the transforming power of the written word. For several years, Lamb has taught writing to a group of women prisoners at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut. In this unforgettable collection, the women of York describe in their own words how they were imprisoned by abuse, rejection, and their own self-destructive impulses long before they entered the criminal justice system. Yet these are powerful stories of hope and healing, told by writers who have left victimhood behind.
In his moving introduction, Lamb describes the incredible journey of expression and self-awareness the women took through their writing and shares how they challenged him as a teacher and as a fellow author. Couldn't Keep It to Myself is a true testament to the process of finding oneself and working toward a better day.

Thoughts: I read this as part of my quest to read anything by Wally Lamb. While Lamb did not pen this, he worked closely with the women who did, teaching them, supporting them and ultimately editing their stories for publication. 
Books like this are invaluable. They provide a window into a world the majority of us are lucky to not inhabit. The stories of these women are heart wrenching. They focus mainly on early life experiences rather than the crimes they have been incarcerated for. Those stories are enough to show you how some of the ended up where they did. I don't think there was a single story in this book that didn't include sexual abuse. None of these women had support structures in their lives that could help them when they needed it most. Many of them found that support in prison and a voice in writing. This book is equal parts inspiring, heartbreaking and uplifting.