The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir
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The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  733 ratings  ·  86 reviews
As a favor for a friend, a bright and talented young woman volunteered to read her poetry to a group of prisoners during a Black History Month program. It was an encounter that would alter her life forever, because it was there, in the prison, that she would meet Rashid, the man who was to become her friend, her confidant, her husband, her lover, her soul mate. At the time...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Scribner (first published May 4th 1999)
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Prison Books
30th out of 227 books — 121 voters
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22nd out of 157 books — 94 voters


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Community Reviews

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Bakari
By far The Prisoner’s Wife is one of the saddest and most emotionally charged books I’ve read in the least few years. As I got about third of a way into asha bandele’s very introspective memoir, I thought to myself, this book is mainly for women. But as I read on, I thought, this is yet another book that should be taught in classrooms across America, or at least in the inner cities where so many young men and women live a daily life of hardship.

Few books are so seemingly honest and reflective a...more
Joleen
This book left me gasping for air and swimming in emotions. Asha Bandeleis an incredibly gifted writer, and this novel is the journey of the heart, all the while struggling with her head, with her friends and family and practical awareness of the bleak reality of her love and her marriage. I felt as though she had ripped her beating heart right out of her chest and made me take a bite. The book raises such questions as humans have always wrestled: Is love all we need? Is true love the ultimate v...more
Eva Leger
May 27, 2009 Eva Leger rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: n/a
Recommended to Eva by: found it myself
This is one I'd give 2 and 1/2 stars to if I had the option. I don't think I've ever read a book written more beautifully than this. She has great talent when it comes to writing and that much is obvious on the very first page. But I don't like her. At all. Not even a little bit.
Most of the book I was able to understand and sympathize and whatnot while there were pieces, major pieces for me, that really bothered me. That bothered me to no end really.
When Bendele talked about Rashid being locke...more
Rita Reinhardt
This is the first book I’ve attempted to read in one sitting! Whoa! Asha Bandele is definitely a poet first, and a writer second! She takes us deep inside the bowels of a love story...the place we fear to bring up in daily conversations, but yet know exist. The unions we gossip about, as we attempt to be supportive to our friends. The incredible journeys that every woman is curious of taking, but finds it extremely difficult to let go and let love. The place in which we can experience a piece of...more
SunnyD
an interesting look into the mind of a woman who fell in love with and married a man in jail. i always wondered about these women. bandele makes the story human, interesting, and thought-provoking. a lot more than i expected. it is a love story, as well as a quasi-memoir. i probably never would have read if it hadn't been a book club selection. i'm glad i did.
Diana
Well, this was refreshing!This memoir was very honest, very intense, and very realistic. I feel that Asha is very complex, she is hard to deal with sometimes. I often felt for Rashid for having to deal with prison time and her issues as well! And then comes the hard part of feeling anything for this couple and their trials knowing that there is a widow suffering alone because of this man... and while they complain about lack of freedom, not being able to be together, not being allowed to be inti...more
Joanne Nunyabeeswax
I myself am a prisoners wife. My heart is locked away in a New York prison . Asha's story although very detailed and graphic portrayed the daily struggle of being married to someone incarcerated. The expense, the separation, the long drives. I identified completely with her prison experience. She put in words the struggle and sadness known to few when someone decides not to abandon their loved one. She pointed out the inhuman treatment of wives by correctional staff who view us merely as scum. T...more
Christina
When I first began this book, I really wasn't impressed by the obvious poetic hyperboles that bandele was using to "beat-a-dead-horse". As I continued to read the book, I really began to enjoy her descriptiveness and passion which allowed me to truly hear bandele's voice. Sometimes her descriptiveness was overused and overdone, but she really had a way of expressing certain concepts in a new and interesting way. I appreciated her honesty to tell all the grit and glam of her journey to loving an...more
Nakia
With this being my 2nd time with this story, I had a completely different perspective. I believe that asha is a terrific writer, but I found it hard to appreciate her love story as much as I did the first time around, mainly because it seemed that she wanted people to sympathize with the punishments of prisoners. Sorry, it ain't happening. If you do the crime, you do the time. And if you fall in love with someone in prison, you must suffer along with them.

I still loved her language and I'm looki...more
Eva Shang
I sat in the park reading this and by the end I was a blubbering emotional mess. It's so raw, emphasizing the power of love to help two people grow and fly beyond prison bars, while remaining grounded in the loneliness, despair, and difficulties. The last few pages had me sobbing because it was just too powerful. You really feel it with her, the slowly beginning to trust, and then the hope, and then the despair.

It just killed me. The way all the prisoners would tell their wives that they would...more
LaNisha
Only two stars for me... well written poetic book, but was filled with too many emotional experiences that I just could not relate to. I enjoy reading books with somewhat of a more relatable tone. The entire time I had to remind myself that I was reading a memoir and not about a fictional character. I continued to read anyway with intrigue into her world of passions, discoveries, disappointments, physical and emotional abuse, then to a point of personal discovery and triumph (relatively speaking...more
Christina
This is a love story. These five words defined this book and its experiences within the stories and emotion that was shared. This memoir was a compelling description of Asha and Rashid's love and how they survived love, pain, and joy within the walls of prison. Asha shared her story in realistic viewpoints, not allowing to be untruthful or shy. She was real and truthful about her pain and loneliness during the times of separation from Rashid. She did not sugar-coat her experiences, and because o...more
Michael Zuniga
I was originally assigned this book in college, but I never read it. I'm glad I finally did. When I first started reading it, I was a little disturbed by the implied political statements about prisons being counterproductive. If that's the case, then what do we do with people who pose a threat to society and who want to deprive others of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? But as the story went on, through Asha Bandele's mellifluous writing style, I became very acquainted...more
Sanaa
I know now after reading two memoir type books that I do not like them. I can't help but think unless the author is writing down their every thought or feeling at that exact and instant time of events the writing ends up be over exaggerated and lines of lie just to make the book, a book.
Sorry if this is not the case but that is just how I felt whilst reading.
When reading time after time about the decisions she made throughout the book I couldn't help but think she wasn't mature enough to deal...more
Pavarti Tyler
Asha Bandele has written a love story. In fact the title of her first chapter is "this is a love story." The most important thing I want to convey about this book is that love, true love, is something you can never know until you experience...unless you read this book. The Prisoner's Wife : A Memoir is an intensely intimate, overwhelmingly emotional and utterly heartbreaking work. I can't even call it a novel or a book, because the writing flows like poetry and the love seeps out of every word u...more
Jamekea
First off I’ll say that this was a really interesting book. It took me a while to get into it though. At first I wasn’t interested in reading it because I was tired of reading books about prison and black women. But I as continued to read it started getting more and more interesting. I began to recognize some of the things she was talking about. I began to feel the same emotions she felt and notice that I’m going through some of the same things she went through.
This book has given me mix emoti...more
spoko
I don't even know where to begin describing this book. It's absolutely stunning. One of my all-time favorite books, and one of very few that I would give a perfect ‘10' to.

All I knew going in was the basic blurb: asha bandele met, fell in love with, and eventually married a man who is doing 20 to life for murder. This is the story of that relationship. It sounded interesting, though honestly I wasn't sure I'd even bother finishing the book. I had high hopes, but they weren't based on much and I...more
Amanda
Nov 06, 2009 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: love
This book inspired me to create a new shelf called love. Ocean was right. Angela Davis is right. Dear Hannah. This is how it could be so. Llllloooovvveee iiiissss bbbbiiiiggggggg.

Well now this book gave words to a lot of ideas floating around here. The first of which is okay, so this woman is married and it is fine, but it is not love. It is not love the way bell hooks defines it. So she gets out. And begins loving Rashid. Dear ladies. It is possible to escape from lovelessness.

This book was a...more
Cheryl
This was an awesome story of self perception, how we perceive other and how others perceive us. As put in the book this is a love story. The most amazing thing about this book is the love that is found in this story is generally the love you would only find in a book of fiction. The never possible love and romance we so often read about but deep down believe can never truly existence. It is about finding that person that completes us and that makes us feel we can achieve any and everything. Thi...more
Felicia
Lovely book and the message in the end was even better. Loving one's self no matter what but yet having someone with you but not with you has to be hard on anyone. But this is a book just for women if you going through something grab this book and by the end you will be inspired and uplifted within.
Monica
very well written. You can "feel" the author's perspective and the prose is emotionally provocative. It's also sexually provocative, which I can honestly say I didn't expect. All that being said, the story line went nowhere. It just ended and I need a better "wrap'up" to give more stars.
The Urban Book Source
An epic tale of loving blindly, unconditionally, and without boundaries. In The Prisoner’s Wife, you will be whisked away on a love trail involving asha bandele, an author, poet and editor of Essence Magazine who comes from an accomplished, close knit family, and Rashid, a prisoner at Sing Sing Correctional Facility serving 20 years to life for murder. This book is a true account of an emotional journey through love and all the pain, joy and struggles that accompany it. We all hear whispers of t...more
Carlton Logan
This was an interesting book to read...Asha writes poetically and honestly about her discoveries about herself, her past, her relationships with men and her relationship journey with Rashid. While reading the book, I was immersed in the development of their relationship but wanted to get to the end to see if it endured the separation and disconnect of physical proximity. I also found myself wanting to hear the story from Rashid's point of view. I would suggest this book to anyone who is curious...more
Wanda
I always wondered about people who have relationships with prisoners and why they choose to get involved. It's a captivating read from the beginning. This book doesn't necessarily fall into one of the categories of women who do fall in love with prisoners. How the author became involved with a prisoner was through a program to bring writing/poetry to prisoners. One of the prisoners became her now husband.

While it was quite engaging, I did find it hard to believe that the author did fall in love...more
Dsgirl
I genuinely enjoyed this book for the most part.

I can say that I love the way this book was written, with the flow of a poet, visually painting every scene as well as possible. This book, to me, is a must-read for the wives/girlfriends/etc of prisoners. It gives a glimpse into a world rarely spoke of publicly, as Bandele says.

The way she portrays Rashid is clear and concrete, also showing that a convict is not always an ugly man.

I loved The Prisoner's Wife up until the end, and I'll save expla...more
MissWhitneyB
Asha writes in such a personal, honest way. :) Made me feel like instead of reading her story in a book, she was sitting next to me, relaying the events of her life to me woman-to-woman. Her and Rashid's story gives you hope that true, real love can be 'found' anywhere, especially when you're NOT looking for it! ;) Anyway, the book chronicles Asha'a journey to LOVE and finding out that it can triumph over ANYTHING. :)

Reason for FOUR stars instead of five?? Well, I feel that it started out a litt...more
Ressurrection
Although I cannot see me being in this situation she writes beautifully. It inspired me to write my memoir and gave me confidence in my own story. I am thankful for her courage and her gift. I don't think that she wrote it for us to agree with her. There are many things that I did not necessary "agree" with.The story is actually a great read as well, in absence of judgment, in support of our individual story. I pray them well. I read this book in one week. I did not want to put it down, and when...more
Tenacious Virgo
One of my favorite memoirs....
Thakore CoCo O'Neal
I read this book some time ago. I loved the way that Asha gave a raw and real look into her relationship unapologetically. She discussed initial reservations about Rashid and the fact that he was a prisoner. She also humanized their love relationship. By really sharing their intimate details. Of course many have a lot to say if they have never been in a relationship of this sort. But she tells her story which many women can relate too. In fact, its so good, I think I will read it again starting...more
Qiana Cole
This is more than A simple story. From the first sentence I was completely caught up in her emotions. Her love for Rasheed was so pure and endless I found myself thinking about them long after I closed the book. There are simply no words to describe her ability to open her heart and allow us to feel exactly what she's feeling. This is far more than A story about A wife and her inmate husband. This is about love that never should've been but had to happen. This was food for my soul
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80522
An award-winning author and journalist, asha bandele first attained recognition when she penned her 1999 debut book, The Prisoner’s Wife, a powerful, lyrical memoir about a young Black woman’s romance and marriage with a man who was serving a twenty-to-life sentence in prison. With the hope that they would live as a couple in the outside world, she became pregnant with a daughter. A former feature...more
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