Hi Meltingpot Readers,
A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of Prison Baby (Beacon Press) in the mail from an editor who thought I’d like it. She was absolutely right, although “like it” wouldn’t exactly be the way I’d describe my reaction to the book.
Prison Baby is a memoir by Deborah Jiang Stein. Adopted as a toddler by White parents, Stein has an ambiguous, multiracial background, was born in a prison to a drug-addicted mother, and suffers from a number of emotional and behavioral problems, all related to her aforementioned background. So, you could call Prison Baby an adoption story, a racial coming-of-age tale, an addiction memoir, or even a saga of triumph over tragedy. The truth is, this slim volume manages to be all of those things and more.
I gobbled up this incredibly readable memoir in two sittings. The child of a literature professor, Stein is a powerful writer in her own right and she details her emotions and passions with such clarity, you actually feel like you’re inside of her head and heart at times. I won’t give away the arc of the story, but I literally could not finish my lunch as I was reading because I was sobbing along with Deborah as she explained a particularly painful part of her life story.
Despite Stein’s painful beginnings and harrowing journey to loving herself, this book leaves the reader with a sense of optimism, hope and marvel at the resiliency of the human spirit. She also forces the reader to reconsider her ideas about family, race, adoption, substance abuse and the lasting harm of psychological trauma. I know, it all sounds heavy and depressing, and it is in a lot of ways, but it is ultimately a book about love and its redemptive powers.
I enjoyed this book immensely and found it to be very inspiring. I will be continuing to follow Stein’s career and her work with female prisoners.
What about you, dear readers? Do you think you’ll pick up a copy of Prison Baby? Have any of you read it already? What did you think?