If you’re reading this blog, it’s no stretch to say you and I are both fans of story. People’s lives and legacies can impact others greatly. That’s just one reason why I love reading memoirs. This one was excellent for many of those same reasons.
In January 1983 Burt Folsom read a story in Time about Mitch Rutledge, a man on death row with an IQ of 84 who said he was sorry for what he did. “Forget him,” the last line of the story read. But Burt wrote Mitch a letter and discovered a man more interesting and intelligent than the article revealed.
Burt and his wife, Anita, began a friendship with Mitch and saw him become a leader and role model for others in prison, teaching himself to read and write (starting with copying down the spelling of items he knew from TV commercials) and becoming a national spokesman on prison life.
Death on Hold is the amazing story of their friendship, and of grace, reconciliation, and redemption for a man without hope who was given a future.
This book truly made my heart happy. Stories of redemption always do. Written mostly from Mitch’s point of view, you learn the story of a man who made terrible choices and had to deal with those consequences (not only of the law, but guilt as well). Instead of his story ending there, he encountered a God who is about grace and changing lives. Even how Mitch connected with his friends has God’s hand all over it.
If you’re looking for a story showing there’s still hope for those the world says don’t deserve it, this book is for you.
This book is also eye opening, as it openly talks about prison life. I think it’s safe to say the movies don’t lie. Not only that, but some of the insight into the prison system was disheartening (like some involved deeming life less worthy because people are in for life without parole).
“Love transcends race.” This was something Mitch said while talking about the friends that came into his life. There’s definitely more in the book, but these friendships give me hope when it comes to race in America.
I’ll close with a quote from Mitch about people who became his friends (those who wrote to him once hearing his story in Time):
“Best of all they told me they loved me and believed in me. In my entire life, the only family member who ever used the word love toward me was Aunt Dewbell.”
This story was such an incredible reminder of the power of loving people has (this book is about multiple friendships Mitch has). Reaching out, taking a chance…it can make all the difference. No one is beyond redemption or the Grace of Jesus. This quick read is well worth your time.
Do you like reading memoirs?
(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)