Strong. Suspenseful. Substantial.
I finished reading your book and took notes as I went along. To let you know, I almost always scan books that we receive from authors, but I don’t always read them cover to cover. I did read yours and was impressed. Many of the books I’ve read about a person going to prison begin with the lifestyle that sets them up for prison. That yours so clearly does just the opposite made it especially strong. It shows how the system can so easily pull in people who aren’t involved, yet they too get entangled with the courts and incarceration.
Although you didn’t say it, I wonder how much race played a part in what you described. Your descriptions of your life, thought patterns, evolution of jobs and relationships made your story easy to relate to, and I can imagine many people reading and saying, “Sure do know how that can happen!” What I also liked was the way you covered many years and complex situations without getting bogged down in what I bet could have easily been a ton of chapters and details. To me, you hit the high points with enough energy but without getting caught in them.
Triumphant is very engaging and has “What’s going to happen next?” suspense to it. I didn’t want to put it down! The story is clean and easy to read. When I say ‘easy,’ I don’t mean that the subject matter was easy. In fact, I found myself angry at a system that treated you the way that it did. The fact that you didn’t mention race made the story stronger, in my opinion, and in an odd way, I wonder if that is what allowed me to be angry about what happened to you. It was clear that my response was mine and not an empathetic reaction to yours (if that makes sense).
You came through your ordeal remarkably, but not everyone would do so well. I can imagine that if you or your family had a lot of money and were white, the outcome would have been quite different. I liked the way you described your thoughts and even ambivalence in different situations. I could feel the pull between getting married suddenly or waiting until situations were resolved (another example that I expect many people can relate to). Questions that one can ponder from several perspectives and agonize over the ‘right way’ to resolve them.
Is there a right way? Maybe not unless we could see into the future. Throughout the book, instead of telling us the story, you showed us the process you went through—the thinking, the decision points, what you did, and how you assessed how those decisions may or may not work.
I thank you, Ms. Roberts! Thank you for sending us the book and thank you for writing it. No doubt people inside will find your book substantial and will benefit greatly.
Colorado Prison Librarian
Books Inside/Keeping Minds & Connections Alive in Prison