30 Books in 30 Days: 8.29.11

Life on the Outside by Jennifer Gonnerman

I was riveted by this book.  Gonnerman’s reporting is excellent. She spent a year or two following the life of Elaine Bartlett, a woman who is freed from jail and then has to pick up the pieces once back in the real world.  Gonnerman’s premise for the book is that no one follows peoples’ lives once they are out of jail.  How do you repair a life and a family life that has been irrevocably splintered by time away?

Gonnerman shows Bartlett’s struggles to find employment and to keep her children together.  There is no sugar-coating in Gonnerman’s portrayal.  She doesn’t gloss over the mistakes that Bartlett makes nor does she hold back in her descriptions of the injustices that occur as a result of the justice system.  For a glimpse into the life of a woman who undergoes struggles that many in similar roles experience, pick up this book.


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