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The Volunteer

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  622 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In the fall of 1999, psychologist Sophia Beckman is compelled by the court to give testimony on behalf of a death row inmate that results in his sentence being overturned. Haunted by secrets from her past, she avoids the media spotlight as much as possible, but soon, other prisoners’ families come seeking her assistance. One family in particular, the wife, children, and br ...more
Kindle Edition, 295 pages
Published (first published October 17th 2011)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  622 ratings  ·  54 reviews

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Bette Crosby
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing

The Volunteer is a story about capital punishment, but more importantly it is a story about how the action of one individual affects so many others. It is a story well told and woven through with issues of betrayal, love, childhood innocence, and complex family relationships. Without tossing in a spoiler I can say there are heart-wrenching scenes that are portrayed without pulling punches, yet Sissel never loses the feel of sensitivity. The Volunteer is told in a langu
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
would prefer to give it 2 1/2 stars but will go with two. A very slow start for me and found myself wondering where the author was going with the story. There were so many stories intertwined in this one that it became confusing. In the end, the author did end up surprising me and I ended up liking it more than I did in the beginning
Pratibha Suku
Jul 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too much predictable if you happen to read any of her work before.

As a reader I had no gain.

Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012-read
The Volunteer by Barbara Taylor Sissel
Published by Author
At the request of author, Barbara Taylor Sissel, a Kindle Edition was gifted, at no cost to be, for my honest opinion.

Synopsis (from Amazon): In the fall of 1999, psychologist Sophia Beckman is compelled by the court to give testimony on behalf of a death row inmate that results in his sentence being overturned. Haunted by secrets from her past, she avoids the media spotlight as much as possible, but soon, other prisoners'
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Volunteer is a beautifully written tale of family, redemption, love, sacrifice and the freedom that truth can bring.

A volunteer is someone on death row who forgoes all further appeals and asks to have his execution date set. Jarrett Capshaw is one such volunteer and The Volunteer revolves around what this decision does to both his own life and his family's. Dr. Sophie Beckman is the psychologist who becomes intrinsically involved with the Capshaw family in her efforts to help Jarret's wife
Pauline Tilbe
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This story is amazing, really makes you think even after you've finished it.
True, the story focuses on Sophia, a psychologist, and her angst about possibly getting involved with another Death Row inmate. She works with the family in overt ways, never meeting Jarrett Capshaw himself. She carries her own secrets. I loved that the book tells the story from different timelines, it makes the story and the characters more real.
But in the end, what I took away from this book was a very important messag
Aug 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Be sure you're in the mood for a lot of drama when you pick up this book.

The story centers on Jarrett and Sophia. Jarrett is a man on death row who had voluntarily given up all his appeals, and is awaiting the day, to the consternation of his family. Sophia is a psychologist who previously handled a death row case that resulted to a stay in execution. Although Sophia will not be an expert witness for Jarrett, their lives will cross in a most unexpected way.

It is true what is said: that truth,
Dorothy Ottinger
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
started off kinda slow, but seems it was just getting started, really liked the story line once it got going, and although sad, the ending was very appropicate. would have given 5 stars except for the slow start. Loved the characters and the build up of interplay between them...still...
Karyn Schulz
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Story is written well but it keeps adding twists that take away from what could have been a good character-based story. Will finish but not sure I'd recommend it. ...more
Shari Ring Wolf
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
On forgiveness

This is the second book I've read by this author, and both are about forgiveness. This book is based on a big coincidence, which happens ...or is meant to happen which makes it no coincidence, but it always seems too convenient when it is the basis for a story. Still, this book was very thought provoking. We all make mistakes. If we are lucky, they are small mistakes with small consequences for ourselves and others. I don't believe we should live in regret, but if we don't have reg
A death row inmate decides that he does not want to fight his sentence. This is the story about his family’s attempts to change his mind. But the real main chat is a woman who is a psychologist and has all kids of complications in her life including her connections to the condemned man. There are so many twists and drama in the relationships, it’s like prime daytime TV material.
The story was supposed to make you consider your feelings about the death penalty. It did not do much in presenting a
Ms Rachel Bolsover
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great book

Fantastic read. Great characters and they came to life. It was clever how the lives of the two families became so interlinked. Author is so clever with the emotions of the characters
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was ok. Nothing to brag about. A guy who committed a crime. Gets tired of being a burden upon his family. And instead of waiting to die. He volunteers to be executed. This way his family will be clear of his sin and be able to move on with their lives.
Nancy Osberg-otrembiak
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another great

I can't read enough of her books. Going on to another one. Sissel's books keep me turning pages and then I'm sad when it's over. Amazing author. Well thought out characters (it's like I've known them forever), plot twists that you just don't see coming, great prose. Touches at the heart of what a writer should be and what a reader wants most!
Jan 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: books-i-own
This has to be the slowest book I have ever read. Oh my gosh I wanted to gouge my eyes out!
Deepa Duraisamy
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Picks up pace about 35-40% down. Inter relationships woven beautiful. A little heavy on introspective thoughts and notes-to-self philosophy though. Decent read.
Gini Rainey
Aug 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was not familiar with the term “volunteer” when used to refer to prison inmates who had abandoned the appeals process, so this book opened up a whole new world to me. The main character of the book is Jarrett Capshaw, who is on death row in a Texas prison because of an unusual crime. Involved in the theft of Mayan antiquities, Capshaw found himself pulling the trigger and killing someone who he had no intention of killing. As much as he feels prepared for it, and as much as he struggles with m ...more
Jul 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
***draft**** Some authors write a story for the story, and readers find the morals later. Other writers begin with morals and scaffold a story around around their message. The message Sissel began with is clear throughout the book, and is further confirmed by the included discussion questions at the end of the book. The themes of forgiveness and acceptance are stirring and noble, as they need be to support to the weak character development and story.
Relying on suspension of disbelief the novel
Lori Henrich
Nov 15, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good read. Sophia is a doctor that deals with mental health issues. Yes you guessed it she is a psychologist/psychiatrist. During one of her sessions with a patient she realized that he had kidnapped a child and was holding him hostage to do terrible things to him. She contacted the police and he wound up on death row. She used her skills to get him off death row and was able to change his sentence to life in prison. When Cort comes to her house and offers to give her a quote t ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
Didn't expect to like this book. Started reading it while reading another 2 books at the same time and I kept leaving it and couldn't get into it. After finishing the other 2 novels I decided I had to finish this one before I started anything new. I read it in about 3 sittings, the bulk of it in one.

It is the story of family, betrayal, forgivness and strength. It starts out with a brother trying to help his brother who is on death row and has decided to forgo anymore appeals or legal manouvers t
Gayle Beveridge
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was a jolly good read. I liked the story; it moved from holding my interest to being hard to put down. The last couple of chapters are tear jerkers.

There were occasional editing errors but the story was strong enough to carry through.

My mother downloaded The Volunteer as a free book on Kindle. She reads extensively and this novel is one of the few she has insisted is a must read. I'm glad she did. We'll both be reading more of Barbara Taylor Sissel.

The Volunteer is a story about Sophia
Jan 02, 2012 rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings regarding this book. I kept wanting to really, really like it, but I got bored. The story was pretty good, so I read it to the end to see what happened. This is the reason for the 3 stars. It bounced back and forth between moving along quickly, and then got stuck in the mire of description. As well, there were way too many "rabbit trails" or side stories that the author would follow. First we are reading about Sophia's background, then we are on to the 2037 Mayan Codex. Ther ...more
Feb 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it did not like it
An ambitious endeavor but I'm afraid it fell short. The characters were flat and I just couldn't relate or are about them. In addition, the part that was supposed to be a surprise twist turned out to be an all-too-convenient ending. I'm not sure why I waded through this. It took me weeks to read it. I just have a hard time abandoning a book once I've started it, even though that is stupid and a waste of time. OCD, I guess. :/ ...more
Jessica Ashe
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book is my new favorite book! I usually am not too captivated by prison book, but this was perfection. Sissel wrote this book so well. There are twists & turns throughout the entire book that you would never expect. I really just can't rave enough about this book, but if I write more I'm going to tell you the whole story! You will not regret reading this book. I'm sad I'm already finished!!!!! GREAT JOB Barbara!! ...more
Joann Eaton
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book itself moved quickly. But I couldn't get around the fact that the central character was a practicing psychologist who would be disbarred if she were a real life character.
She has inappropriate personal ties to her whole caseload and doesn't seem to recognize how unprofessional her bahavior is. Nor does anyone else.
For that reason, I can only give it two stars.
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
There were portions that I really liked, and when I really wanted to give it four stars. Then things would go downhill again, so I settled on the three stars. There was quite a bit of foreshadowing that led to nothing. You expected a big reveal that never happened in some of the side stories. All in all, it was an okay book, but not one that I would gift to someone.
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Picked this book up while it was free for kindle. So glad I did. It is well written and I was able to feel the emotions of each of the characters. I simply could not put it down.
I guess the twist at the end was a bit too predictable for me. Even so, I was very touched with the way it was written.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Wish I could do 1/2 star ratings so I could give this book 4 1/2 stars. I really enjoyed the book for the thought-provoking storyline. Yes, there are many incredible coincidences, but guess what, people - it's fiction! That part just didn't bother me. The book is well written, which, for me, is a major factor in my assessment. I'll be thinking about The Volunteer for some time. ...more
Mary Gottschalk
Jul 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
A good family drama, with lots of psychological suspense, several nicely interwoven plots, and a surprise ending. Starts a little slow, but the pace picks up, and by the last chapters, I couldn’t put it down. I definitely will read some of Sissel’s other books.
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Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Next to writing books she loves to edit them, and with more than fifteen years in the profession, both as a bestselling author and as a developmental editor, she's got experience. Contact her via her website if you' ...more

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