In this beautifully written, brutally honest memoir, Kinsella shares how she stumbled into a relationship with a lifer and became part of a sorority she never thought she’d join. Over the course of three years, she spends time with and ultimately befriends the wives, girlfriends, and mothers of some inmates at Pelican Bay. On this unexpected journey, she learns of the hurdles, heartbreaks, and hopes they have for their relationships as she experiences a connection with someone who helps heal her own wounds.
As the United States continues to incarcerate convicted criminals for increasingly long periods of time, our prison rolls swell to unprecedented levelsmore than two million todayas does the number of women and children whose lives are thrown into limbo and who live for their next visiting time.” Through the lens of her own unlikely experience, Kinsella examines those impacted by crime and punishment with keen observation, candor, and compassion.
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Henry and his mother returned home from Wednesday-night prayer meeting to find an enormous owl eating sausage biscuits out of a torn sack on the kitchen counter. When they walked in the door, the owl turned its head all the way around on its neck and looked over at them just as calm as could be, and it was holding a biscuit in one set of talons, like a man eating half a sandwich.
“Uncle Lipton!” hollered Henry’s mom. Those were Uncle Lipton’s favorite biscuits, but Uncle Lipton was nowhere to be seen.
The owl knocked a whole slew of stuff off the counter as it craned and shook its broad wings. Henry’s mom went for the broom. She tried to tell Henry what to do but he became confused and ran screaming down the hall.
The owl took off after him, emitting a constant stream of silky yellow defecation, but the short and narrow hallway did not accommodate its wingspan. It lost control, destroyed a row of family photographs and barreled into Henry’s back. Henry fell on his chin, splitting about one inch of his tongue down the middle.
Henry rolled over to see the owl careen into the small, pale bathroom. It tore off the shower curtain and, wrapped and blinded, flew into the mirror on the medicine chest, smashing it into diamonds.
Henry scrambled up and shut the door.
“What have you done?” said Henry’s mother.
“Now it can’t get out,” said Henry.
“But we want it to get out,” said Henry’s mother.
Henry spat a great bit of blood onto the floor.
They found Uncle Lipton curled up in a cabinet under the kitchen sink, next to thebug spray and Mr. Clean. His eyes wouldn’t open all the way and he was humming a tune.