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The Prisoner's Wife: A Memoir

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  1,301 ratings  ·  134 reviews
How did a beautiful, talented college student fall in love with a man serving twenty to life for murder? And why did she marry him? At a time when one in four black men are caught in the web of the criminal justice system, Asha Bandele shatters the myths of prisoners' wives and tells a story of embracing the beauty of love in the ugliest circumstances and of people's abili ...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published August 1st 2000 by Scribner (first published May 4th 1999)
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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
Joanne Nunyabeeswax
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 20, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Maya B
Mar 20, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting look at what its like to love someone in prison. I always wondered how someone could love someone that long. this book definitely answered some of those questions. it feels like this book needs a followup. I struggled with the fact of was this love, sympathy, or empathy. I closed this book wondering how many relationships survive when that person is released from prison. I liked the reader's guide that followed the story
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Over the weekend Jamaica had a little hurricane scare, or rather a big hurricane scare since at one point it did blow up to a Category 5, fortunately for us (unfortunately for Haiti) the worst was diverted and we only suffered tropical storm conditions.

However, due to the preparation required for the impending storm Jamaica was essentially on lockdown for Monday. This meant that I had some unexpected time in my hand and so in between studying, working on an assignment, and checking in with work
Rita Reinhardt
Apr 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
May 26, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 20, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent idea of a story but, executed in an ordinary fashion. The plot was probably lost in translation.

Asha to me was the real prisoner of life having endured abuse and miserable lifestyle, she found in a real life prisoner some freedom and strength. She found the spice & the purpose her life always lacked. Rashid on the other hand is the prisoner who enjoyed more freedom "visitors & married life" between the bars of the prison.

One of the best parts of the book was the graphic details of the
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.
Feb 26, 2011 rated it did not like it
I did not finish the book because the author's style was boring. ILL
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really dislike this book

So this book was chosen for a book club pick by one of our members. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this author. While reading the book, I wanted to stop reading it and just pay the 3.00 dollar fee of not finishing a book but I pushed thru. The whole I was reading the book I was asking myself, who is she talking to? Is she talking to us or herself? This book felt like she was having a conversation with herself trying to convince herself she was really in love
Feb 25, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Dec 01, 2015 rated it liked it
This is hard to rate, I really like the writing, the story too is engaging however I do not agree with the writer's point of view.... how do you rate that? Review coming soon.
Aisha Manus
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Much more than I expected. Wasn’t sure I liked it in the beginning but it picked up as it went on. You can tell that she writes poetry by the way she wrote this. Interesting and would recommend to certain people.
Isaac Holloway
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started to read this book in an effort to engage my sympathetic/empathetic capacities. I spend a lot of time in academic materials but they can be cold and clinical. And when 90% of your reading is cold and clinical you become cold and clinical. I got a lot more than I bargained for in this text.

This memoir is heartwrenching and beautiful. Primarily, this is a love story. But it is not this romanitic story of a dutiful wife loving and holding her head up with the misogynistic dignity of Black
Cindy Leighton
A memoir by one of the founders of Black Lives Matters revealing in intimate detail her experience falling in love with and eventually marrying a man she met at a prison where she was volunteering to read her poetry. This is an achingly beautiful portrait of falling in love with a man, Rashid, whom she comes to know intimately emotionally - with whom she is able to share things about her life, about the abuse she suffered as a young girl, about her hopes and dreams that she has never ever shared ...more
Claudyne Vielot
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's such a beautifully written love story. Asha Bandele is a poet.
The author describes her falling in love, the conjugal visits and the pain and difficulties to be away from one another. But it also goes beyond that, it's an introspection on her own life and an honest portrait of the choices she has to make.

When she falls in love, it unlocks her past, and she is brutally honest about it - (view spoiler)
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Maya Mitchell
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A powerful & beautifully descriptive read.

I must admit, it took me awhile to get into the flow of the story & become emotionally connected to the story. However, the poetic undertones in each chapter & illustrative narrative got me hooked once I committed to reading the book in its entirety. At first, I thought the story to be one solely about a couple in love while facing grave adversity. But then I started to detect various truths within the text; the most prominent being self love & healing!
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bandele offers an emotional glimpse into the lives of two people romantically involved within the constraints of prison walls, both physically and emotionally present. Her writing glides readers through the memoir, touching feelings and navigating challenges faced in such an unusual yet all too common set of circumstances. She left this reader feeling familiar with the couple, hoping they will prevail. I'm looking forward to reading other books she's written.
Danni Green
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful, heart-wrenching read. I powered right through it in under a day, unable to put it down. It is the story of a woman who falls in love with a man who is in prison, and she's crafted a powerful memoir about that experience. I cried more than a few times while reading it.

cw: racism, prison abuse, child sexual abuse.
Mary Blye Kramer
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The writing is lovely, poetic and if I liked poetry, I might have liked this book better, but I don’t and I didn’t. The story is about a woman falling in love and marrying a prisoner but the underlying theme is one of sexual abuse and bulimia and I think I’ve just read 100 too many memoirs about those topics...
Nyla Moore
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a beautifully written unconventional love story. It’s not a fairy tale love. But it is real and deep and full. I believe we all aspire to love and be loved like these two love one another. I enjoyed the poetic nature of her writing. However, the story is flat and unclimactic.
Bandele's prose is poetic and sensual. The subject matter is controversial, but certainly causes the reader to stop and reconsider their own biases and preconceived notions of incarceration, marriage and how the two combine.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's a story that's raw, heartfelt and emotional. Asha takes us through her life of hardships, what it's like to be a prisoner's wife and dealing with prison conditions.
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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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