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You Don’t Know Me

The Incarcerated Women of York Prison Voice Their Truths

List Price: $26.00

ON SALE: April 7, 2020 | Hardcover | 6.0 x 9.0, 336 pages | ISBN 9781640092389
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In a new collection of essays, New York Times bestselling author Wally Lamb guides the writing of the inmates at York Correctional Institution into moments of honesty and revelation, presenting the truths discovered during incarceration 

An adopted woman searching for her origins discovers she was born in prison. A bank robber reminisces about her first theft in kindergarten. A prisoner serving a life sentence examines the nature of time. A young woman dreams of escape not from prison but from addiction and will sadly fail at both. These are just a few of the stories found in You Don’t Know Me: The Incarcerated Women of York Prison Voice Their Truths.

For more than twenty years, New York Times bestselling novelist Wally Lamb has led a writing workshop for the women at the York Correctional Institution, Connecticut’s only prison for women. In You Don’t Know Me, their autobiographical essays challenge our assumptions about the incarcerated and the criminal justice system. The fifteen stories presented here offer an honest look at a group of women who write to confront and transcend their histories and their lives in prison, gaining valuable insight along the way. Alongside the women’s writing is Lamb’s own chapter devoted to his reunion with several of his former students—ex-offenders who discuss their lives after prison and their reentry into a world dramatically changed by technology, altered family dynamics, and cultural shifts. In discussion with Lamb, the women movingly recount their reintegration into society, the challenges of finding work, the value of family and support systems, and the ways in which their writing enhanced their rehabilitation.

Tackling timely themes and centered on the important issues of mass incarceration and draconian sentencing practices, You Don’t Know Me is a bracing call for rehabilitation and reform using stories that underline the humanity within us all.

WALLY LAMB is the author of six New York Times bestselling novels: She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True, The Hour I First Believed, Wishin’ and Hopin’, We Are Water, and most recently, I’ll Take You There. Lamb edited Couldn’t Keep It to Myself and I’ll Fly Away, two volumes of essays from students in his writing workshop at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, where he has been a volunteer facilitator for twenty years.



Praise for You Don’t Know Me

“If there was ever a manifesto for prison reform, it is Wally Lamb’s moving collection of prison writing from incarcerated women. This valuable insight provides a glimpse of the talent wasted and dollars misspent on imprisoning offenders for decades-long terms. Lamb offers a powerful message about the power of rehabilitation, education, and second chances that would benefit both the offender and society. This one packs a punch.” —Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books (Excelsior, MN)

“Wally Lamb has volunteered at York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Connecticut, for the past twenty years, running writing workshops with the inmates. Fifteen of them tell their stories here, and . . . you find you can’t look away. Their stories are devastating, heartbreaking, and even funny at times. Think Orange Is the New Black, but a much deeper dive.” —Grace Harper, Mac’s Backs-Books on Coventry (Cleveland Heights, OH)

“Really good. This collection of essays brought out the individual voices in a group that is usually overlooked and unseen. This entire book is another argument for much-needed prison reform.” —Kristen Gramer, Lewes Public Library (Lewes, DE)

Praise for She’s Come Undone

An Oprah’s Book Club selection
New York Times Notable Book of the Year
People Magazine Top 10 Book of the Year
LA Times Book Award Finalist for Best First Novel of the Year

“An ambitious, often stirring and hilarious book.” —The New York Times

“A heroine to cheer for… This supremely touching journey to adulthood may remind you of The World According to Garp and other sagas of emotional liberation.” —Glamour

“There are at least two surprises in store for readers of Lamb’s memorable debut novel. One is the author’s sex. This male writes so convincingly in the voice of a female, tracing her life from 4 to 40, that you have to keep looking back at the jacket picture just to make sure. The second surprise is how such a string of trials and tribulations can add up to such a touchingly funny book…” —People 

“Mr. Lamb gives his vociferous heroine truly heroic proportions, in both the physical and the psychical sense … John Updike once observed the J.D. Salinger loves some of his characters ‘more than God loves them,’ which might be said about Wally Lamb … Those characters are equally endearing to the reader, as Dolores Price is, even in her most self-deprecatory moments: this reader kept rooting for her to overcome all adversity and find peace and happiness.” —The New York Times Book Review

Praise for I Know This Much is True

“Set against the vivid panoply of twentieth-century America and filled with richly drawn, memorable characters, this deeply moving and thoroughly satisfying novel brings to light humanity’s deepest needs and fears, our aloneness, our desire for love and acceptance, our struggle to survive at all costs. Joyous, mystical, and exquisitely written, I Know This Much Is True is an extraordinary reading experience that will leave no reader untouched.” —Oprah

“Lamb takes a great risk here… It’s a tribute to Lamb’s considerable gifts that we wind up feeling sorry for this obnoxious patriarch, even as we loathe him. … [I Know This Much is True] never grapples with anything less than life’s biggest questions.” —New York Times Book Review

“As odd as it might sound with the subject matter, this book is a joy to read, mainly because Lamb is an excellent author, but also because the story really resonates. It keeps things simple: It’s about life, tragedy, failure, relationships, and coping. It remains one of the most vivid books in my mind.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Thanks to well-sustained dramatic tension, funky gallows humor and some shocking surprises, this sinuous story of one family’s dark secrets and recurring patterns of behavior largely succeeds in its ambitious reach… In tracing Dominick’s helplessness against the abuse of power on many levels, Lamb creates a nuanced picture of a flawed but decent man… A fully developed and triumphantly resolved exploration of one man’s suffering and redemption.” —Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

Praise for I’ll Take You There

“Wally Lamb’s affection for these characters is so palpable, his intentions so palpably good, that it’s hard not to be touched by this sweet-natured novel.” —Washington Post

“Lamb is a writer with heart, passion and skill. I’ll Take You There deals with themes of feminism, eating disorders and family secrets, and winds up with a warmhearted finale.” —USA Today

Praise for We Are Water

“So far my favorite scene involves the throwing of multiple glasses of Bordeaux at three Vera Wang wedding dresses. At least you know you won’t be bored.” —People

“Wally Lamb’s latest, We Are Water, works the same magic as his 1992 prah-anointed breakthrough, She’s Come Undone, capturing a snapshot of modern life (class struggle, racial violence) through the lens of a family faced with jarring news from its matriarchal figure.” —

“We are water: ‘fluid, flexible when we have to be. But strong and destructive, too.’ That’s evident in this emotionally involving new novel from the author of She’s Come Undone….Clear and sweetly flowing; highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story

“In the hands of Wally Lamb, what emerges isn’t an apology but a celebration of life…Felix makes a hilarious guide through a story that whirs right along.” —Washington Post

“Lamb . . . proves he can be short, sweet and funny.” —USA Today

Praise for The Hour I First Believed

“Lamb, a maestro of orchestrating emotion . . . knows how to make his fans’ hearts sing.”—Elle

“Lamb… has delivered a tour de force. The Hour I First Believed is his best yet.” —Entertainment Weekly

Praise for Couldn’t Keep it to Myself: Testimonies from our Imprisoned Sisters

“Gut-tearing tales of being battered by life . . . the unvarnished truth.” —New York Times

“Lying next to and rising out of despair, hope permeates the book.” —Los Angeles Times

“Self-assured, deftly structured and grippingly paced . . . not one narrative comes across as an excuse or rationalization.” —New York Post 

“Riveting, touching . . . look[s] past the bars to lay bare lives that would normally have gone unheard” —Entertainment Weekly

“This book is a worthwhile read—and arguably a mandatory one—for anyone who works with people involved with the criminal justice system or who is training or educating those who will work in the system.” —Psychiatric Services

“There is a novelistic quality to the writing . . . Reading these riveting stories, which evoke sadness and anger at once, one appreciates Lamb’s gift to women who had thought they had no voice and who are now published writers.” —Yes! Magazine

“Uniformly wrenching . . . Yet they are as far from self-pity as possible, written by extremely self-aware authors who give a clear sense of setting out to take some degree of control of their destinies.” —Kirkus Reviews

“An intriguing and powerful collection . . . Lamb succeeds in giving the collection an intense, recognizable emotional core reminiscent of his blockbuster debut novel, She’s Come Undone.” —Publishers Weekly

“Vivid and intimate portrayals remind us that these women are human beings first.” —Pop Matters

Praise for I’ll Fly Away: Further Testimonies from the Women of York Prison

“Well-drawn, evocative . . . The essays are powerful.” —Associated Press

“The book challenges stereotypes and offers a world of information . . . I’ll Fly Away will be . . . required reading.” —San Antonio Express News

“Lamb . . . continues to offer readers an intimate look at women struggling to maintain their humanity.” —Booklist

“Inspiring and raw . . . They write from the heart . . . each vignette is more compelling than the one before it.” —Library Journal

“Accomplished . . . Each story, no matter how grim or gritty, shows polish.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A book worth reading as a show of support for those who went through so much to produce it.” —Book Page

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