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I'll Fly Away: Further Testimonies from the Women of York Prison [Paperback]

Wally Lamb
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 10 2008 P.S.

For several years, Wally Lamb, the author of two of the most beloved novels of our time, has run a writing workshop at the York Correctional Institution, Connecticut's only maximum-security prison for women. Writing, Lamb discovered, was a way for these women to face their fears and failures and begin to imagine better lives. Couldn't Keep It to Myself, a collection of their essays, was published in 2003 to great critical acclaim. With I'll Fly Away, Lamb offers readers a new volume of intimate pieces from the York workshop. Startling, heartbreaking, and inspiring, these stories are as varied as the individuals who wrote them, but each illuminates an important core truth: that a life can be altered through self-awareness and the power of the written word.


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I'll Fly Away: Further Testimonies from the Women of York Prison + Couldn't Keep It To Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters + Wishin' And Hopin': A Novel
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Review

“Lamb . . . continues to offer readers an intimate look at women struggling to maintain their humanity.” (Booklist)

“Inspiring and raw…They write from the heart…each vignette is more compelling than the one before it.” (Library Journal)

“Accomplished…Each story, no matter how grim or gritty, shows polish.” (Kirkus Reviews)

About the Author

Wally Lamb is the author of four previous novels, including the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed and Wishin' and Hopin', a bestselling novella. His first two works of fiction, She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, were both number one New York Times bestsellers and selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb edited Couldn't Keep It to Myself and I'll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women's prison in Connecticut where he has been a volunteer facilitator for fifteen years. He lives in Connecticut with his wife, Christine. The Lambs are the parents of three sons.


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Most helpful customer reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Writing with Wally Lamb as therapy May 4 2009
By Jakky
Format:Paperback
In his role as Professor of Creative Writing, Wally Lamb has collected a second series of writings by the incarcerated women of York Correctional Institute in PA. While this is some of the most disturbing and voyeuristic reading I have ever done, it is also an indirect look at a prison system which is simply not working adequately to achieve its purpose: to keep criminals from re-offending, to help addicts recover sobriety, to reform and punish and separate the bad seeds from the rest of us good, law-abiding citizens... The autobiographical tales recounted by the women of York are gut-wrenching and horrifying. It is not surprising that they ended up in prison, it is only surprising that they did not end up there sooner. Wally Lamb shows great respect for and validation of these women in publishing their stories. These two collections of prisoners' writings (Couldn't Keep It To Myself and I'll Fly Away) challenge some of society's simplistic notions about incarceration, and leave me with hope that programs such as Lamb's prison writing workshops will help some badly bruised and broken souls to reclaim their dignity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Fly Away Feb. 5 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A touching collection of real life stories and some lovely poetry, puts you inside the minds of how these women end up in prison and how they cope and better themselves. Would recommend this book, especially if you know someone who's been there.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Difficult. Sept. 23 2013
By jmf
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was a struggle. I have to be honest: I haven't finished reading it because, as you might expect, I couldn't relate to it in any way.Fortunately for me, life has been more kind.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
52 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for just about anyone Sept. 29 2008
By World Traveller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book, and its partner "Couldn't Keep It To Myself" by the same author, is at times tough and uplifting. These are essays that women have worked on in a writing class inside the prison. They are their personal stories, which usually reveal so much about their circumstances and decisions that led them to incarceration.

Some of it is rough to read, such as troubled family lives and things happening to them that we don't like to think about. You get a chance to see the real consequences of poor treatment and bad circumstances. It's must-see information so we can all be more empathetic and alert when it comes to how we treat loved ones, watch over our neighborhood, and care for the society at large.

But beyond the painful histories, these essays reveal how these women are searching inside themselves to identify and correct troublesome thoughts and habits, and rehabilitating themselves in the process. In this respect it is very inspiring and uplifting. Most of us go through our days without thinking much about the deep things. In these essays we can follow the path of discovery with these women, some further along than others, and the progress they have made even in spite of their handicapped backgrounds and current incarceration. It can't help but motivate the reader to higher aspirations with his own circumstances.

I could recommend these two books to anyone who is interested in: child care, teaching, psychology, dealing with challenges, religion, or caring about our fellow man.

As an aside, I bought these books because I responded to an ad in our local paper looking for "weekend puppy-raisers". This prison has a program of training inmates to raise puppys for future life as an assistance dog to a handicapped person. The inmates work hard for the privilege, and dedicate themselves wholly to making the ideal dog for its future needy owner. On weekends, the dogs go home with a family to get socialized to life outside the prison walls. I signed up as a weekend family, solely because I missed having a dog, and with my work schedule, a full-time dog was impossible. What I didn't expect, was that the relationship with the inmate raising the pup would mean at least as much to me as the pup. The transformation that the woman is undergoing, as she works on herself and learns more about how her actions impact others and her own future, is so inspiring. I was surprised to find "real people" in prison, and so I got these two books to learn more about who they are and what led them to that point. We all have less-than-ideal life histories and personal choices, it's just a matter of degree, and I've found this helps me open my eyes to a world I avoided even thinking about - troubled families and people living in rough circumstances or making bad choices. It's good take off the blinders.

I'll post the same review on the companion book.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IMPRISONED ELOQUENCE March 26 2008
By K. L. Cotugno - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wally Lamb is one of those writers that readers wish would write more. But seeing how he spends his time, readers can understand why he isn't pounding away at a keyboard relentlessly. Instead, he is inspiring incarcerated women to reach within themselves, bring forth what they know, and express themselves creatively. The pieces in this second collection are poignant given the circucumstances in which they were written, but hopeful in that they give voice to these neglected women, giving them expression. It is uncertain whether any of them could write as effectively about something outside of their experience or out of their imagination; however, that is not the point. The fact that they are able to be creative with what they do know is enough.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and thought-provoking Dec 19 2007
By Nancy E. Deren - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Excellent anthology of writing by women in prison who took part in Wally Lamb's writingn classes. Several of the most touching pieces are by young women serving long sentences for crimes committed at very young ages. Great reading for anyone interested in social justice issues.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'll Fly Away Jan. 6 2009
By M. A. Banks - Published on Amazon.com
Wally Lamb has done it again! This shows his compassion for these women along with their chance to do something worthwhile. Well written.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A broken heart Oct. 8 2013
By ctblueyes1 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There is an inmate that has written her story in this book which makes her out to be the victim and my brother to be a monster. The author allowed this inmate to write an untrue story in his book without confirming the facts at all. Mr. Lamb you have no idea how much this inmates short story took a healing wound and reopened it to be a gaping whole again. She is the monster and my brother was the victim. She also acted as judge, jury and executioner the day she drove knife into his chest...you should've checked the facts of the case before you allowed her to manipulate the truth for book sales....it's disgusting and degrading to every victim that has suffered a loss that you allowed to be a part of this book
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