Thursday, April 19, 2012

Redemption ~ Stacey Lannert & Kristen Kemp review

Redemption: A Story of Sisterhood, Survival, and Finding Freedom Behind Bars
Crown Publishing Group
March 20, 2012
336 pages
add to Goodreads/buy on Book Depository/or Amazon

On July 4, 1990, eighteen-year-old Stacey Lannert shot and killed her father, who had been sexually abusing her since she was eight. Missouri state law, a disbelieving prosecutor, and Stacey’s own fragile psyche conspired against her: She was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole.
Redemption is her account of the years of abuse that led up to the shooting. The childhood with her abusive father, absent mother and the younger sister Stacey felt she needed to protect is only the beginning of what Stacey opens ups about in her memoir.

Redemption is incredibly - almost unbelievably - honest and candid. While the cover and the subtitle both talk about 'Finding Freedom Behind Bars,' a little over half of the book takes place before Lannert shoots and kills her father. I don't see it as a negative, but do note it in the interest of disclosure.

I was surprised at how honest and open Stacey was about not just her past but also about the past of her parents and grandparents. She didn't just recount the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father (parts of the book that were actually quite difficult to read - she really does not spare much detail), but also the abuse her mother and sister suffered and the abusive pasts of her parents in their childhoods, too.

While it doesn't make anything 'understandable' or acceptable, having some more of their family dynamics almost explained was really nice. I do applaud her (and I would think, her family) for being willing to be so open.

The chapters did feel a bit more like essays than traditional chapters. While I don't expect memoir chapters to be like fiction chapters, Redemption's chapters still read differently. Things were repeated a bit in latter chapters (even exact phrases) and they weren't completely consecutive (they were chronological but end of chapter 1 didn't continue into beginning of chapter 2) making it feel like the chapters were written separately and then put together chronologically.

I think if the repetition hadn't been present, none of that would have mattered.

As honest as some of the early parts of the books are, some of the parts after her arrest seem almost glossed over. I don't think it's actually a case of being less than truthful, just, perhaps, that less focus was put there. (And this is the only part that I know I've seen a 'Dateline' or whatever that had an alternate point of view.*)  That section was the one that I felt was probably the weakest but it was also the one that I think was not where the authors were focusing and would have made the book much, much longer the flesh it out.

It's not a 'spoiler' to say that she was eventually released form prison as it's noted on the cover - and that it took nearly twenty years. Lannert's co-author, Kristen Kemp (also a YA author) wrote the article for Glamour that helped initially draw public attention to Lannert's case and I think it's great that she's now the co-author of the book.

Rating: 8/10

thank you to the publisher for my copy of this title for review

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