Timely Conversation Needs Even Better Documentation. The timing of this book, releasing just a week before Election Day in the United States, could perhaps be *slightly* better – a month earlier would have allowed it and its ideas to be discussed more during the final days of the campaign. And to be clear, this book does in fact present a mostly compelling argument and certainly a wrinkle on the American justice system that needs to be more openly examined and more critically debated by those who can actually change things – the various elected officials and bureaucrats who create and implement the very rules in question. The only truly noticeable objective-ish problem with the text here is that while the documentation provided is on the low-ish side of average in my experience (23%, compared to 20-33% being average), there is a *lot* of hand-waving, undocumented claims, that could have used much better documentation. These claims may in fact be accurate – but they needed sources rather than just claims, and for those more ardently opposed to the proposals here, the added documentation to these claims could be crucial in defense of Anderson’s points and proposals. Thus, the one star deduction here. Still, this book truly does add yet another necessary wrinkle into an already truly complicated discussion, and for that reason it is very much recommended.
This review of In Their Names by Lenore Anderson was originally written on October 2, 2022.
Interesting Yet Documentation Is Substandard. This is a work of narrative nonfiction where the author uses case studies of six people she has followed for some period of time as they fight to get released from prison and come back into the non-correctional life. As such, it is quite well done, though readers who struggle to follow multiple characters in a fiction book will likely struggle to follow along here, as the author herself is largely the only commonality among the six (though two of them knew each other on the inside, their stories are largely separate and told separately). Indeed, the only real negative is that the author makes a lot of claims… that the scant 10% bibliography (at least in the advance edition I read) fails to really document. And thus the star deduction. Still, a solid work and one worthy of consideration. Very much recommended.
This review of Free by Lauren Kessler was originally written on April 19, 2022.
For this blog tour we’re looking at an interesting story of love, forgiveness, repentance, restorative justice, prison reform, and penance that could perhaps have used a better storytelling approach. For this blog tour, we’re looking at The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard.
Interesting Story, Perhaps Better Served By A Different Storytelling Technique. This is an interesting story of what happens after a person who has been accused of a heinous crime is released from prison and the toll wrought on the person and their family and friends – particularly in the face of continued harassment from the community. Readers who hate multi-perspective stories will enjoy the fact that we only really get one perspective here, but this is actually the weakest thing about the book to my own mind. For me, having a multi-perspective book with the prisoner’s mother (the perspective we get here), the prisoner, and maybe even the stranger and the victim’s mother, would have made this story quite a bit tighter and potentially, assuming it was done right, that much more interesting. The issues that the book does explore well – restorative justice, repentance, forgiveness, mother’s love, etc – could have been further strengthened by this other technique as well. Still, for what we do get here, it is fairly solid but not “edge of your seat” reading. If you go into this expecting a thrill-a-minute… you’re reading the wrong dang book. But if you look at this more as a character study / family drama with elements of suspense and thriller, you’re likely going to leave this book more satisfied. Very much recommended.
After the jump, an excerpt followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, social media and buy links.
Continue reading “#BlogTour: The Good Son by Jacquelyn Mitchard”
Making The Case For A More Systematic Examination Of Its Topic. This book does a *tremendous* job in looking at as many facets of love and relationships involving the United States’ millions – literally -of prisoners via multi-year case studies of five particular couples. And therein also lies its chief weakness – while the original research for the case studies themselves was conducted directly by the author, the author states many facts beyond the people she is directly interviewing… and then the text doesn’t provide any form of bibliography to back up these (sometimes alarming, shocking, or even dubious) claims. But even with this weakness noted, the text’s strengths via its case studies are truly remarkable, and show the pressing need for a more systematic – and documented – examination of this particular topic. This is a book that will shock you. It will pull at your heart strings. It will make you cheer and cry and scream out at the people involved “WTF ARE YOU DOING!!!!!!”. And in these regards, it truly is a phenomenal book. Very much recommended.
This review of Love Lockdown by Elizabeth Greenwood was originally written on June 22, 2021.