What Confines Us in Misery?

That's the question that Deborah Jiang Stein addresses in this unusual book--a non-sensationalized memoir called Prison Baby, about a daughter born in prison, then removed to loving (but flawed) foster families before being adopted by the loving and flawed family in which she was raised. 

If you've read any of my books, you know the emphasis I place on self-examination and self-growth in our parenting. We don't parent our children in isolation from our past, our struggles, our joys, or our selves. 

Jiang Stein keeps her story simple and honest, with no ego-waving attempts to call attention to what's *different* about her experience. Instead, she finds the commonality among us all in the specifics of her uncommon (but not unique) life history.

The essential question with which she leaves us is:"What if my attempts to eliminate [grief and uncertainty] had been my real prison?"Maybe I've asked myself the wrong questions all along. What is the the fight against sorrow, fear, and uncertainty confines us in misery? A wall of fear and resentment, not a brick-and-mortar prison, had constricted me, even though I was free." (p.152)

This is an adult book--and it gives Dads and adult Daughters plenty to ponder. Consider reading it together and use the shared experience as a conversational jumping off point. 

Full disclosure: Deborah is a friend, but as an author myself, I tend to be less patient and more critical with books written by people I know. In this case, however, "Prison Baby" is the first book in over a decade that I read straight through in one sitting. The last was Wendell Berry's Jayber Crow; good company IMHO.


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