Thanks to family and friends, Healing Falls hit the bestseller list during its Canadian launch at McNally Robinson, Winnipeg, on Friday, Aug. 17. Sales were second only to Crazy, Rich Asians that week, which says something for crazy, rich Mennonites. It was standing room only, and everyone responded warmly to my concerns for women in prison, the way we’re punishing them and injuring their children, condemning them to repeat the cycle.
The following weekend I presented at the Decatur Book Festival, GA, and was amazed to see classmates all the way from Congo in what turned into a mini-reunion.
The novel’s publication in 2018 coincides with thousands of children separated from parents detained at our southern border. It was inspired by six years volunteering in women’s prisons and resonating with mothers addressing their issues in rehab, but suffering the loss of their children, some permanently.
I, too, was separated from my family as a child during revolution in Congo, not knowing if they were safe or alive. Rebels surrounded the airport and my brain was flooded with toxic fight-or-flight hormones. This is what we’re exposing separated children to, an effect that can lead to lasting brain development delays.
This effect was, in part, why I entered Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step program, which I then took into women’s prisons. It was to address co-dependent/relationship issues, which made me both needy for, and afraid of, connection. What the women in prison taught me was the distilled 12 steps: I can’t, God can, I’m going to let him. It was a place of surrender and peace.
I found it a lot easier to talk to Canadians about the need for US prison reform, but am feeling freer with Americans, following great interviews by Tom Flannagan on WFSU/NPR, and Libby Giesbrecht, on Golden West Radio, CHVN. Also, McNally staff did a great job of compassionate promotions with introductions, posters, flyers and ads.
I’m overwhelmed with gratitude and hope for real change in our criminal justice system. On November 18, join us in a local author festival at Barnes & Noble in Tallahassee, and on January 12 come participate in a restorative justice panel at My Favorite Books, also Tallahassee. Please join us as we envision meeting the needs of victims and perpetrators while proposing restorative justice reforms for our criminal-justice system.