Sing Soft, Sing Loud: Scenes from Two Lives

Patricia Macconnel, Author, Patricia McConnel, Author Atheneum Books $18.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-689-12046-6
Subtitled Scenes from Two Lives , these 15 stories focus on the experiences of two young women inmates in U.S. municipal and federal prisons. The author, a veteran of California jails and the Federal Reformatory for Women in Alderson, W. Va., writes with forceful authority and a natural story teller's instinct for character. The first section follows Iva, a spirited young California hooker, in and out of jail, detailing her friendships with other prisoners and the antagonism between them and the prison ``screws.'' The title story, in which Iva helps a young addict endure her first night by singing, is particularly deft and effective. The longer, second section is about Toni, a young woman caught carrying drugs for her lover and sent to Alderson, where the conditions of daily life are more civilized but the lack of freedom is as onerous as in any city lock-up. Innately intelligent and feisty, Toni is limited by her upbringing, her lack of education and a desperate dependence on men. Paroled to her demanding father, she falls back into old habits and runs away. Eschewing the sensational aspects of prison life for women, McConnel develops her characters with integrity and depth--they are women first, prisoners second--making her plea for sympathy all the more powerful. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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