I Can Take It from Here: A Memoir of Trauma, Prison, and Self-Empowerment

Truth to Power. Jun. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781586423049. pap. $16.95. MEMOIR
Forbes’s memoir reads like a mash-up of episodes of Orange Is the New Black, a Toni Morrison novel, a self-improvement book, and a polemic—in the best possible way. None of this should come as a surprise, since Forbes found literature, including Morrison and Shakespeare while incarcerated for stabbing her daughter’s father. The book unfolds in ways that clearly identify the ways in which childhood sexual trauma and its enduring effects shaped Forbes’ trajectory, yet she never positions herself as a victim at the individual level. Instead, she uses her experiences to illustrate the societal issues that lead to recidivism and create barriers for individuals released from prison. As she notes, of the roughly 650,000 people released from prison each year, almost 2/3 are re-incarcerated. She examines structurally what causes this and provides clear, actionable steps that could reform the policies that make it nearly impossible for people to reenter the workforce and find meaningful, safe ways to live in our society after being released from prison.
VERDICT Forbes has a story that needs to be read, and one that she has clearly synthesized and analyzed to ensure its significance encompasses both her personal successes and a much larger societal reform.
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