Reviews

From Beth’s Book-Nook Blog
Book Review by Dr. Beth Nolan

 

I recently received a copy of TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN from my friends at Meryl Zegarek Publicists (just a note: anything I’ve ever gotten from MZPR I’ve loved!). This is a mini-memoir of one woman’s experience working as a library cart librarian and transition counselor in the juvenile section of a large prison in New York. For Marybeth Zeman, her relationship with the boys in this facility is centered around her library cart and the books and stories she brings to them each week. Reading, for these boys, is a sanctioned escape, a chance for the future, a little bit of freedom in their everyday life.

 

Told in short vignettes, Marybeth has captured numerous tales of different boys: how they came to be in prison, what their daily life is like, how bright or bleak their futures are. Their stories are touching, painful, and honest, and one is left with the knowledge that these boys are just a small percentage of the thousands of young men incarcerated in our country each year. Marybeth’s story highlights the workings of the justice system and shows where improvements could occur, especially in helping the boys to have the skills they need in order to not become repeat offenders. Most poignant of all, though, are the voices of the boys that stay with you long after reading this book.

 

I was so touched by this book that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Marybeth Zeman while I was in NY at BEA. We connected through her publicist and spent about 90 minutes together just chatting and talking about her work, the juvenile justice system, her experiences, etc. There was no formal interview, or a “how did you come to write this book” type of Q&A. Instead we were just two educators and readers, come together to discuss our concerns and feelings about these boys and our hopes for the future.

 

Marybeth’s story is one that deserves to be told. Readable, touching, and unforgettable, her TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN reveals an intimate portrait of what life is like for many of our nation’s young citizens. And Marybeth is a spunky narrator, both in the book and in real life! I can’t believe I’ve heard the last from this woman — she is going places and, as her subtitle suggests, she is “challenging the juvenile justice system one book at a time”.

 

Dr. Beth Nolan
Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

– See more at: http://www.dev.talesofajailhouselibrarian.com/about/reviews/#sthash.Iev0hZEe.dpuf

From Beth’s Book-Nook Blog
Book Review by Dr. Beth Nolan

 

I recently received a copy of TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN from my friends at Meryl Zegarek Publicists (just a note: anything I’ve ever gotten from MZPR I’ve loved!). This is a mini-memoir of one woman’s experience working as a library cart librarian and transition counselor in the juvenile section of a large prison in New York. For Marybeth Zeman, her relationship with the boys in this facility is centered around her library cart and the books and stories she brings to them each week. Reading, for these boys, is a sanctioned escape, a chance for the future, a little bit of freedom in their everyday life.

 

Told in short vignettes, Marybeth has captured numerous tales of different boys: how they came to be in prison, what their daily life is like, how bright or bleak their futures are. Their stories are touching, painful, and honest, and one is left with the knowledge that these boys are just a small percentage of the thousands of young men incarcerated in our country each year. Marybeth’s story highlights the workings of the justice system and shows where improvements could occur, especially in helping the boys to have the skills they need in order to not become repeat offenders. Most poignant of all, though, are the voices of the boys that stay with you long after reading this book.

 

I was so touched by this book that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Marybeth Zeman while I was in NY at BEA. We connected through her publicist and spent about 90 minutes together just chatting and talking about her work, the juvenile justice system, her experiences, etc. There was no formal interview, or a “how did you come to write this book” type of Q&A. Instead we were just two educators and readers, come together to discuss our concerns and feelings about these boys and our hopes for the future.

 

Marybeth’s story is one that deserves to be told. Readable, touching, and unforgettable, her TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN reveals an intimate portrait of what life is like for many of our nation’s young citizens. And Marybeth is a spunky narrator, both in the book and in real life! I can’t believe I’ve heard the last from this woman — she is going places and, as her subtitle suggests, she is “challenging the juvenile justice system one book at a time”.

 

Dr. Beth Nolan
Beth’s Book-Nook Blog

– See more at: http://www.dev.talesofajailhouselibrarian.com/about/reviews/#sthash.Iev0hZEe.dpuf

San Francisco Book Review

“Nearly 23 hours a day, incarcerated juvenile offenders are left to their own devices, seeking anything to alleviate the stress and tedium they endure…”

Link to full review

 

“Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian is about ‘the book-lady,’ who brought books to a juvenile detention center and used them to try to build kids up again.”

Nicholas Kristof, Kids Behind Bars, The New York Times, On Common Ground, June 28, 2014

Link to full review

 

“Marybeth Zeman is not your typical librarian…[she] doesn’t charge fines when borrowers hold books past their due dates…[she] tries to inspire them instead.”

Zack Dowdy, Long Island Newsday, “Jailhouse Librarian” tries to inspire juveniles with literature, June 28, 2014

 

“Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian: Challenging the Juvenile Justice System One Book at a Time opens up to the reader—like the books that Zeman peddles to her students—a stark and punishing world that so few people know about.”

David Chura, author and blogger, Kids In The System

May 1, 2014

Link to full review

 

Kirkus Review

“TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN: Challenging the Juvenile Justice System One Book at a Time
A sensitive, compassionate and smart retelling of prison stories “so real, so starkly real, so brutally honest, they seem like our own.”

 

African-American Literary Book Club

“Riveting and well written, Zeman wisely reminds us that part of being young is making mistakes. In so doing, she makes a good argument about education instead of incarceration.”

Carol Taylor, African American Literature Book Club

April 29, 2014

Link to full review

 

“Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian deserves a read by anyone who is concerned about social justice and about how to reduce crime without throwing away potentially valuable human lives.”

Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader

May 2014

 

“Never a ‘slog’. Interesting and engaging.”

The Skanner: Challenging People to Shape a Better Future Now

May 22, 2014

Link to full review

 

“Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian is a compelling account of the trials and tribulations of incarcerated youth in America. When so many children are being tried as adults to be punished rather than rehabilitated, Zeman’s experiences may give many pause.”

Tales of a Jailhouse Librarian:
When Reading Is More Than Passing Time

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie on Reading Around

Link to full review