With A Grip of Time, Lauren Kessler takes us on a compelling, intensely personal journey into the rarely glimpsed end point of our justice system. Through the lives and poignant stories of lifers, Kessler reveals the insidious truth behind America's world-record mass incarceration: The system is not, as many believe, failing at its job. It's doing exactly what it was designed to do—dehumanize inmates and leave them ill-equipped to rejoin society. What dignity, meaning, and success these lifers achieve come despite the system's design."
Edward Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Burned: A Story of Murder and the Crime That Wasn't
What happens when hope is gone? A Grip of Time is the true-life story of a group of men sentenced to life in prison. They have gathered in a writing group, telling stories no one will ever hear. With a clear eye, Lauren Kessler writes of their journey—and her own. This is a devastating examination of guilt and remorse, of the unanswered questions of a nation that has pursued mass incarceration without even asking what justice means, or should be. Erased, vanished, haunted: this is a story not just about American prisoners, but of our country's moral code."
Rene Denfeld, internationally bestselling author of The Child Finder
A Grip of Time is a beautiful, tender-hearted story of a group of prisoners for whom writing became their lifeline. Lauren Kessler avoids all the usual tropes in writing about prison, and has written a keenly observed and deeply felt narrative about what it means to be locked up for life. This book, so original and so compelling, took hold of me, and wouldn't let me go. It was revelatory."
Alex Kotlowitz, bestselling author of There Are No Children Here
I have long admired Lauren Kessler. Her latest book, A Grip of Time, evinces unflinching sympathy for the incarcerated who would lift and transform themselves through writing their stories."
Ted Conover, author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing