This is a review of the book Death on Hold from Burton and Anita Folsom.
I once taught minors in a juvenile detention center and thought I had the department of corrections -and life on the inside- figured out. Burton and Anita Folsom take the short anecdotes of Mitch Rutledge, an Alabama prisoner serving a life-sentence without the possibility of parole, and paint such a vivid picture of life in prison that I quickly realized how much I did not know. Though not explicitly graphic, the Folsoms use the letters of Rutledge to create an engaging biographical narrative that is a quick, gripping read.
Death on Hold tells the story of prison inmate Mitch Rutledge, who is serving a life sentence for murdering a man across state lines. His life, which is told in three-to-six page short chapters, chronicles significant events of us upbringing and adolescence which contributed to his eventually committing the murder, his time in prison, and his eventual redemption. When the authors present an excerpt from a write-up on him from Time in the 80s that attempts to pain him as worthless, the reader cannot help but be hooked as he or she asks the question: If Mitch is worthless, why would anyone actually write a book about him?
Moving from the point-of-view of Mitch, Lillian (a nun from California), Mitch and his wife Anita, the book uses short chapters that through description and action tell a story that would not be as interesting a read as an academic research book. The point of the project is to relate the events of a formerly troubled individual who is at a place where he should be able to do something to contribute to society outside the bars of the prison. While I do not know how I feel about that notion, but I do know that Death on Hold makes a pretty compelling case for it.
In the end, Death on Hold is a book to read for an individual looking to find hope in unexpected places. The reader should be cautioned though, this book will elicit some deep thoughts as he or she wrestles with the underlying theme of the book.
I received my copy of this book for free through the BookLookBloggers program in exchange for publishing a review on it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.