I received Redeemable as part of the Sensei Subscription pack brought to you by Books on the Rail. A monthly package is sent out with a book, four books on the rail stickers and this month an adorable bookmark. Books on the Rail also run a bookclub on the rail to discuss the months read – sadly I’m not a Melbournite and will be unable to attend. I would highly recommend getting on board, particularly if you are from Melbourne. Redeemable is the story of Erwin James, who had a tough upbringing after his mother died in a car accident and his father turned to violence and alcohol eventually leading him to a life of crime. First appearing in court a month shy of his eleventh birthday this book details how he ends up in prison serving a life sentence for murder. There he meets a prison psychologist who helps his turn his live around. This was an incredibly honest and thought provoking tale, which I am glad to have had the opportunity to read.
Seriously, my subscription to Books on the Rail has already paid off. I had never heard of this book before I received it and probably never would have or even picked it up if I had heard of it. Non-fiction is not my usual go to but I’m finding I’m continuously surprising myself and loving these books. One of the main takeaway points from this tale is that of empathy. Being able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. The lesson that Atticus Finch famously teaches young Scout. This is an ability I highly value in those around me and is an important lesson for us all to take on into our own lives. This is in part what draws me to not only reading but reading such an unorthodox mix of books. I cherish the ability to put in myself in so many different shoes, all different shapes, sizes and colours . This book does this in such an eloquent way, taking you in to a life you can only being to imagine and understand.
James is careful in his writing. He in no way writes this to garner sympathy, or pass off the blame of his actions to his traumatic upbringing. In fact he is very careful to explain that he was responsible for his actions and that he in no way can atone for what he has done, particularly for the hurt he caused his victims families. I think it is respectful that he doesn’t discuss the murders that he received his life sentence for. He isn’t using their story to get attention, he is using his own. The way he describes his life and his lessons is with no nonsense, a sense of honesty and integrity. A lesson to those out there that life is a series of choices. That you can make many mistakes that take you down a path but you can always change that. There is much to be learned from this novel and I implore you to give it a go.
There isn’t much more to say about this piece of work other than to pick it up and see for yourself. I finished it in two days despite attending a music festival at a winery leading me to feeling quite tired today. I was consumed by the story and couldn’t put it down. In the words of James himself he “went from being a prisoner who wrote to being a writer in prison” and has gifted us his life lessons in Redeemable. A worthy read I give Redeemable three typed pages of James’ columns.