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Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters
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Couldn't Keep It to Myself: Testimonies from Our Imprisoned Sisters

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  6,097 Ratings  ·  530 Reviews
What I hope is that people reading this book will bear in mind that we are human beings first, inmates second.
--Bonnie Foreshaw
In a stunning new work of insight and hope, New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb once again reveals his unmatched talent for finding the humanity in the lost and lonely and celebrates the transforming power of the written word.

For the past
...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published January 28th 2003 by Harper
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Community Reviews

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Pam
Jul 01, 2007 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very sad book - my view of imprisoned women has changed. I used to have no compassion for people in prison, considering they must have done something bad enough to get there, but these women's stories show that most of their problems stem from horribly abusive childhoods and if they had a healthier upbringing, most wouldn't be in jail now. Some were raped before they were even old enough to spell the word rape. The book doesn't focus much on their crimes, but their lives before and after their c ...more
Renee
Jul 26, 2010 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Any book that can give voice to the voiceless should be celebrated. No one feels this more strongly than Wally Lamb, editor of Couldn't Keep It to Myself, a collection of stories by 11 women imprisoned in the York Correctional Institution in Connecticut. Teacher and novelist Lamb was invited to head a writing workshop at York Correctional Institution in 1999. His somewhat reluctant acceptance soon turned into steadfast advocacy once the women in his charge began to tell their stories. Lamb maint ...more
Amy P.
Jun 30, 2009 Amy P. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a feminist this book is important. It's voices directly from the women that the prison industrial complex affects. It's a humanizing book that sheds light on a broken criminal justice system. Although it is not implicit that the criminal just system is broken, it is easy to infer from these women's stories that there are systemic issues in these women's lives that prison does still not address. It becomes apparent through these women's words that the way our criminal justice system works now ...more
Keith
Apr 26, 2009 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit leery of starting this book when I saw the subject. It took me back to the years I dealt with dysfunctional women and heard stories like the ones related in this volume over and over and over again. After I got into it a ways, though, I couldn't stop reading. More women live in the shadows of the experiences these women had on their way from infancy to womanhood than would commonly be believed. I scratched my head a few years ago when one of the agencies in the state in which I was w ...more
Tamsen
Nov 06, 2010 Tamsen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book accomplished two things... it cemented my love for Wally Lamb and it seriously changed my perspective on the incarcerated.

My favorite part was Wally Lamb talking about his 'excuse card' he keeps by the phone... when he gets asked to volunteer his time, Lamb references the card and preserves his time for writing instead. When asked to volunteer his time for a writing workshop at the York Correctional Institution, he couldn't find the card. Lamb declares himself "a family man, a fiction
...more
Rishelle Vinson
Feb 07, 2011 Rishelle Vinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I found this gem of a book in a used bookstore in Titusville, Fl. Once I started reading I could not put this book down. I fell in love with all the women’s stories and their hearts. Wally Lamb is a caring and amazing author because he went to the York Correctional Institution and created a writing workshop for the women who wanted to create memoirs.

One of my favorite stories is called “Hair Chronicles,” by Tabatha Rowley. She writes her story taking the reader through her life by remembering h
...more
Beth
I have not read the well-regarded novels by Wally Lamb, but overall, I found this project spear-headed by him to be an interesting read. True, the writing of these women was not the best examples of prose I've ever read, but the naked reality of their stories was refreshing and interesting. This is probably not my first choice of style of reading material, but I'm glad it was recommended to me as it expanded my reading horizons a bit. These women all have compelling stories to tell, and really t ...more
Susan Anders
Sep 17, 2011 Susan Anders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a humbling collection of short stories written by women in the York Correctional Institution in Connecticut. Each story is written by the inmates that were put there for various reasons, but none of them leave you feeling like the writer wants you to feel sorry for them. In fact, you feel humbled and grateful that they were willing to share their stories. All of the women came from horrible childhoods: sexual abuse, child-abuse, broken families, drugs, alcohol - numerous tragedies that s ...more
Gale
Mar 26, 2013 Gale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
"Hope, Freedom and Peace through Journaling"

Author Wally Lamb's workshop at York Correctional Facility for Women inspired eleven inmates to commit their memories of childhood and early adulthood to paper. This process has proven beneficial to the wounded "children" locked inside their hearts, as well as to those who seek to understand how they wound up in prison. Once the hurdle of not trusting anyone behind bars was cleared, these eleven women unleashed the floodgates of repressed or anguished
...more
Michelle
Apr 25, 2013 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Wally Lamb is incredibly addicting. He is such a fantastic writer and although he did not directly write this book he is the one that inspired these women to come forth and write their stories. I guarntee you that once you have read this you will look at women in prison in a whole new light (maybe even the men as well, but this is not about the men). Just so I make myself clear and I am not accused as being some bleeding whining liberal, Although their end behavior (the one that wound them up in ...more
Kelly Moriarity
Interesting look at why people do the things they do. Are we inherently bad or does something drive our rational decision making? This book draws the thin line between what is wrong, and what is necessary. Is it "wrong" to kill the husband who molested your innocent 2 year old granddaughter? But that's just the question on the surface. Suppose you know what becomes of 2 year old girls who are molested by a family member? Suppose you know that it leads to your mother committing suicide because sh ...more
Erinn
Jun 08, 2009 Erinn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was excellent. I was hesitant in the beginning because, although it was a "Wally Lamb Book" it wasn't actually written by Wally Lamb. By the end of the book I wished there was a sequel to Couldn't Keep it to Myself so I could continue reading for a long time. The women pour out their souls and expose their most intimate feelings and I felt so fortunate to be reading it. I am connected with these women and because of that I feel the need to write to them in prison and express my gratitu ...more
Juan
Jan 16, 2013 Juan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this book as a prize for getting an A in an Art Appreciation course. What a great incentive. My professor is collaborated to make the cover art. But whatever. The book is awesome. These are some of the stories of women who were or are currently incarcerated in a CT prison. Some of them are heartbreaking, some make you laugh, but they will all make you appreciative of what you have in life. I think it should be required reading for psychology students and social workers who have clients com ...more
Sue S
Nov 08, 2007 Sue S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wally Lamb hasn't come out with his next terrific novel because he has been working with woman convicts in York,CT. He has been helping them "find their voice" thus helping them find themselves in the most dismal of circumstances. What amazes me the most about these stories, is the similarities between the women. Poverty, abuse, and mental illness and drug abuse. is in each woman's past. The stories are real, and so are the women in them. Some have gone on to great things, others are still incar ...more
Katiesmurphy
Dec 29, 2009 Katiesmurphy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought what I loved about Wally Lamb was his writing, but he didn't write this one and he accomplishes the same straight to the gut honesty and simple reality that I love so much. Every one of these stories had me looking back at the picture into the eyes of the author, amazed how much she relayed in so few pages and how much she'd lived through. I've been thinking so much about these stories, these amazing women who had so much shit happen to them, and whose voices were squashed flat until t ...more
Jennifer Satterfield Farr
This was an assigned reading for a college class (Women and Crime), and I absolutely loved it. It is very raw and emotional at times, and at others, beautiful and poetic. Lamb provides the reader with access into the physical and mental prisons of incarcerated women, through their own voices. Your experience with this book will probably change the way you view female prisoners and the U.S. justice system. I highly recommend it to everyone, but especially to those interested in Women's Studies, C ...more
Carly
Mar 12, 2016 Carly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"There are things [we] need to know about prison and prisoners. There are misconceptions to be abandoned, biases to be dropped. There are a heart and a mind that need opening. There are many.

We are a paradoxical nation, enormously charitable and stubbornly unforgiving. We have called into existence the prisons we wanted. I am less and less convinced they are the prisons we need."

Excellent read. It humanizes those who need our understanding and compassion the most.
Rachel
Apr 01, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure what to expect, and while these stories are full or hurt and pain, it's not a bleeding train wreck. This is a book full of hope and memories of good times. None of these women's stories are asking for your sympathy or cause you to feel sorry for them. More than anything, this is a book of lessons learned.
Sara Risley
Jul 24, 2015 Sara Risley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a little blown away by this collection of pieces by female inmates at a Connecticut prison. The collection is forwarded by Wally Lamb who taught a writing class there and put this together. I was blown away by the stories these women told. Almost every single one of these women was abused sexually or physically starting at an early age. Breaks my heart....

I highly recommend the book.
Scooping it Up
May 26, 2014 Scooping it Up rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book makes me hate prisons and lose a little faith in humanity. So many women who end up in prison battle mental health and addiction issues primarily due to having been victims of abuse and violence and neglect in early childhood. The cycle is so ugly. These tales they tell of their lives make me weep. Such a vivid, moving book.
Ptaylor
Jan 27, 2014 Ptaylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very different book of short stories. Each of the stories was written by a woman prisoner aided by Wally Lamb. It was very interesting how these women ended up in prison with the common denominator being a dysfunctional childhood. It was very well done and Wally Lamb put years of work into it.
Courtney Bayer
Oct 10, 2013 Courtney Bayer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this collection of essays from incarcerated women compelling. Though I can't condone the paths these women took to lead them to prison, learning the details of their often violent childhoods did make me more compassionate as to their plight. The women's writing skills also impressed me, especially since many of them had an incomplete education. I recommend this book.
Stephanie
Jan 12, 2015 Stephanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Stephanie by: Rachel
I spent years dying for a follow up to I Know This Much Is True. When I read it was going to be a non-fiction book, I was all "maaaaaan! bummer." Yeah, I was stupid. This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. If you don't read it, you are stupid!
Shannon
May 10, 2008 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I loved this book. The fact that these women were able to tell their stories is a testament of Wally Lamb's ability to reach and teach them. Awesome book.I could not put it down, and I couldn't keep it to myself!!!
Carrie
May 10, 2009 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-old
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Long Clark
Jun 12, 2015 Long Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough book to read but worth it. Gave me a broader perspective on life and all the things we have to endure. Couldn't read it in one sitting though; only a few stories at a time.
April Lashbrook
Aug 24, 2014 April Lashbrook rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. This book makes me want to start a writing group at my local prison. "Victories against voicelessness" indeed.
misty
Jun 19, 2016 misty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were so many good stories in this book. I felt connected to each woman, save for a couple of shorter chapters. There were many authors I looked up in hopes of finding their full memoirs.
Samantha Grabelle
Dec 25, 2016 Samantha Grabelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autographed
Painful but amazing to read how beautifully written the memoir stories are despite the pain the women must have gone through to learn to write well and then to actually write their horrors down on paper.

I got to meet Wally Lamb at the Warwick B&N and had him sign this book instead of his newest one. I also showed him the postcard he sent me almost 20 years ago from his This Much Is True book tour. And then I gave him an excerpt from my memoir with the story about us in it. Fingers crossed t
...more
Cheryl Stanton
Kudos to Wally Lamb for mentoring these incarcerated ladies. Their short stories are heart wrenching and cathartic. And also darned depressing.
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Around the Year i...: Couldn't Keep It To Myself, by Wally Lamb 1 8 Jan 07, 2017 06:43AM  
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Wally Lamb is the author of She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True. Two were featured as selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb is the recipient of the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Connecticut Governor's Art Award, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers ...more
More about Wally Lamb...

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“I started writing because of a terrible feeling of powerlessness," the novelist Anita Brookner has said. The National Book Award winner Alice McDermott noted that the most difficult thing about becoming a writer was convincing herself that she had anything to say that people would want to read. "There's nothing to writing," the columnist Red Smith once commented. "All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” 16 likes
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