I have invited my real life BFF and one of my biggest writing fans to offer up her thoughts on this book. Lauree is truly an amazing person; I am honored to have her join me here today. She also reads faster and sleeps less than me. She really is amazing!
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell is not for the faint at heart. In fact you better be wearing your big girl panties, preferably not white which was the Tutwiler prison issue, as you delve into the lives of this myriad of women. As much as this book is uplifting and full of hope it is also filled with the grittiness of abuse, addiction, anger, loneliness and a not so perfect judicial system that unfortunately allows abuse to continue. My heart broke with this realization.
Miss Brenda Spahn organizes and provides her unoccupied property as a home for transitioning female ex-convicts into society, which she calls the “Loveladies”. The premise behind the Loveladies is to be a whole way house instead of a half way house or a bus ticket back to where your crime was committed. At this whole way house women are given the resources and time to recover from the past and and learn how to truly live. As poignantly expressed by one of the original Loveladies, Shay “I wanted her to help me live because I didn’t know how to.”
This theme of not understanding how to live and why these women ended up this way is a recurring statement throughout the book. We see that most of these women were victims at a very young age of sexual and physical abuse, as well as neglect. There is in fact loveliness in the Loveladies, barring the personal time it takes for each to decide to be done with the old life.
Miss Brenda herself has had brushes with the judicial system including an indictment for tax preparation fraud. This brush lead to her renewing her relationship with the Lord and a no holds bar following his lead. I can appreciate the turn around that Miss Spahn has personally attested to, going from a money hungry, materialistic business women to a more simplistic avenger of the lost.
There are plenty of good Christian hopes and words of wisdom shared within this account of the Loveladies. Miss Spahn, an ordained minister, shares her Christian wisdom in a multitude of facets from relying on God leading and perfect planning, to the forgiveness she both teaches and learns how to give, throughout her experiences with the Loveladies.
I read through this book, pretty much in one sitting. The subject matter, although relevant in my personal walk with a loved one, was a hard truth and uncomfortable for me to want to spend any more time with than necessary. I recommend this read for anyone dealing with understanding drug addicts and criminals or those interested in prison ministry. It has some brass hard truths and descriptions of sexual and physical abuse as well as some unsavory language. You’ll need to go through the mud to get to see the silver lining on the new horizon.
Disclaimer: This book was received in exchange for an honest review through Waterbrook Press and the Blogging for Books program. The opinions expressed are that of the authors alone.
About Lauree Andrews: Lauree is a Jill of all Trades, Lover of Tea, and History Buff. She lives with her family in rural West Greenwich, RI. Lauree recently completed her Masters degree in Education, and would love to write a children’s book someday. She enjoys drawing, sewing, camping and endless phone chats and cups of coffee with her BFF.