cover image The Lost Chapters: Finding Recovery & Renewal One Book at a Time

The Lost Chapters: Finding Recovery & Renewal One Book at a Time

Leslie Schwartz. Blue Rider, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-525-53463-1

Novelist Schwartz (Angels Crest) turns to nonfiction in this reflective account of her brief time behind bars. Following an arrest for driving under the influence (and a dubious charge of battery of an officer), the writing teacher found herself in Los Angeles County Jail, sentenced to 90 days, of which 37 were eventually served. Married and the mother of an adolescent daughter, Schwartz had been sober for 10 years before relapsing into drug and alcohol addiction, and a series of blackouts that culminated in her arrest, imprisonment, and the haunting realization that she had lost entire “chapters” of her life. While in jail, she read (she was allowed to order three books per week) and found inspiration and escape in the writings of Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being) and Edith Wharton (Ethan Frome), among many others. She was a middle-aged Jewish woman among primarily black and Latino prisoners, and there she learned to let go of self-blame and shame, and reached out to her cellmates (a 21-year-old prostitute named Wynell, and Qaneak, who killed a cop) with kindness and generosity (for example, by teaching yoga). In return, she found sisterhood, support, and love. The author’s heartfelt story of self-acceptance and redemption will captivate readers with its honesty, vulnerability, and array of memorable characters. (July)