... flaws and all, these couples feel real. The pat explanations for why women might start a relationship with a man in prison...may have some salience, but they are not the whole story. By taking this lens to the prison system, Greenwood also cracks open the absolute awfulness of this subworld—the greed of charging prisoners exorbitant fees to have any contact with loved ones; the exploitation of paying inmates $12 a month for full-time work, forcing women to shoulder the financial burden of caring for families; the constant humiliation that is the point, not the byproduct. As Greenwood explains, the way we do prisons in this country is not normal. Perhaps if we approached incarceration differently in America, we’d have a different understanding of the relationships that come out of it as well.
An empathetic, detached portrait of five prison couples ... The overarching themes of the book are pain and the need for connection. Each of the incarcerated people portrayed, as well as their mates, has experienced serious trauma ... The book does an admirable job of showing that hope, like love, is a choice these partners make ... an engaging, informative, open-minded account of family dynamics that are often overlooked.
A compassionate inquiry into the hidden phenomena of prison relationships ... Greenwood makes good use of interviews with prisoners, academics, and others, and the writing is observant, humorous, and even sensuous, as when the author and Jo attend a conference for prisoners’ families and hear frank talk about the realities of frustration and conjugal visits ... An empathetic and well-characterized book that will add complexity to debates about mass incarceration.