There are times you randomly come across a book that totally rocks your world. There are other times when someone hands you a book specifically to rock your world and other times when you seek that special book out. Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor falls into all three categories for me. I’ve had someone suggest it to me, I’ve looked for this masterpiece myself and last week, I ran across it at the library and snached it up.
I read really really fast. Always have and always will. It’s really handy when taking standardized tests or trying to read the whole newspaper. It’s not such a handy skill when tying to savor a book. Senghor’s memoir of his 17 years incarcerated in Michigan’s prison population is one of those books I wish I had read slower. Except that I couldn’t stop. Even when my eyes were burning and I was fighting sleep from dropping my eyelids, I kept reading.
Senghor is honest and vulnerable – he lays everything out. There is no romanticism of his past drug dealing days. Sure, he talks about how hood he felt at the time when he was young, free, with pockets full of cash. But he adds how he felt abandoned by his mother, broken and scared. Throughout his writing, he tells his readers a story of how he grew out of that broken littl boy into a strong powerful man who understands his mistakes and is actively working to prevent others from following his path.
Each chapter starts with a header with a location and time. He flips his reader back and forth from the streets of his Detroit neighborhood to his cell of different prisons. We move seemleasly across his life, helping him sell crack with his friends to waiting excitedly for the library cart while locked down in solitary confinement.
Senghor doesn’t sugar coat his crimes – he honestly discusses what he has done and how he learned to move away from his violent past. He’s an incredible story teller and I loved how he was so honest with his readers.
I would highly recommend this fantastic piece of literature. Senghor gives an amazing look into what it’s like to spend 17 years incarcerated and how the system has potential to change. I look forward to reading more of his work.