Couldn't Keep it to Myself

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9780060534295: Couldn't Keep it to Myself

A collection of heart-wrenching tales of abuse and violence from a writing class of women prisoners, edited by world-renowned no.1 New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb. Wally Lamb's writing has been lauded around the world for its humanity and sensitivity to the plight of the outsider, the misunderstood figure who seeks hope and redemption. For the past several years, Lamb has devoted himself passionately to working with a group of incarcerated women at the York Correctional Institution. While at first the women distrusted Lamb, each other, and themselves, many of them began to slowly embrace the opportunity to join Lamb's writing class. Over time, they began to express themselves, and this book is the product of that journey into expression. Many of these women were imprisoned by their circumstances even before they came to York. Some women recount harrowing tales of chronic abuse and rejection by their families, their peers, and their societies. Brenda Medina joins a gang to fit in and to impress her volatile boyfriend, and violence soon ensues.

Nancy Birkla is arrested for drug trafficking just when she has begun the painful ascent toward sobriety and toward facing her demons. Other tales give glimpses into life in jail. Robin Cullen writes about the difficulty of celebrating Christmas in a maximum-security prison where no care packages are allowed. Bonnie Foreshaw tells of how much she misses the music and joy of family gatherings. She still has much more time to serve of her forty-five year sentence for an accidental killing. The reader learns why some women turned to brutal violence, how others were caught in no-win situations, and how many of the women embrace hope even in the depths of their despair and loneliness. Wally Lamb's powerful introduction describes the incredible process by which these women found their true voices, and how they challenged him as a teacher and as a fellow writer: "I have come to know my current students not merely as the substance abusers, gang members, thieves, and killers they have been, but also as the complex and creative works in progress they are." Couldn't Keep It to Myself is a book about the hope and heartache of that process of finding onself and striving for a better day.

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