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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
In 2006, Maryam Bey, a Senior Counsellor in the prison system, experienced a huge awakening that would change the futures of many black and Hispanic inmates. Her view that they were being sentenced to a vicious circle of imprisonment because of their lack of education and low self-worth was confirmed. Her mission to encourage and educate inmates to become the best versions of themselves began. She was to face dissidence from many in the judicial and education system who believed that her work was fruitless. Maryam continued her work and persisted tirelessly to show the correlation between poor education, negative role-models, low self-esteem, and a generation incarcerated with broken spirits, hopelessness, and fear for the future. Follow in her work, Broken Spirit: Let It Go So You Can Grow, the people who inspired her and those she inspired to break the cycle of a life of crime and imprisonment. The lives of these young people can be given hope. All they ask is: "Do you see me?" and "Do you hear me?"
Broken Spirit: Let It Go So You Can Grow by Maryam Bey is a heart-breaking and very emotional account of the injustices that still exist throughout the judicial system and society at large. There are many stories that will enrage you because there is such a wide section of our communities that are treated with such humiliation and disregard. For example, the chapter on the arrest and treatment of her son was shocking. I loved her questioning techniques towards the inmates which made them realize the damage they were causing to their families and communities which they loved. She also cleverly inspired them to transfer the skills they learned through crime into financially supporting their families legally. I found the explanation of the misuse of substances and violence really compelling. The chapter which covered the tactics used by some in authority to break the spirit of the inmates and degrade them was appalling and really insightful for me. This quote, “Know thyself, you will value yourself,” is the epitome of this amazing woman's work and those like her. A true unsung hero who is changing lives, communities, and hopefully future generations. There is an excellent section at the end that is a must-read for anyone who works in the counseling or teaching sector.