Booklist Online is a collection of over 130,000 book reviews for librarians, book groups, and book lovers—from the experts at the American Library Association. I was excited to learn that a few weeks ago, David Pitt wrote a Booklist Online review of Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption.
At 23, Hopwood was already a veteran bank robber, having committed a handful of robberies, including the one that got him sent to prison for more than a decade. In prison, he faced numerous challenges, including the inevitable violence and threats from gangs, but—readers familiar with this sort of story will see where it’s going—rather than become trapped by prison culture, he began the process of turning his life around, eventually becoming an acclaimed “jailhouse lawyer” who changed the lives of many of his fellow inmates. Stories of redemption are not exactly in short supply—even ones written by ex-cons are plentiful—but this one succeeds because it is simply told. Rather than load his story up with obvious spiritual themes and life-affirming messages, Hopwood tells us about his life as he lived it, the good stuff and the bad stuff, and allows us to derive our own messages from the story. The book will be different things to different readers: what is a story of personal triumph to one reader could be a story of “beating the system” to another. But either way, it keeps you reading.