Of the many hundreds of books that I have read in my fifteen years of incarceration, Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series stands out as the books that got me through the difficult final years of my prison term. Recently I was put in segregation. At the time I was reading “The Brutal Telling,” and I was saddened that I was separated from the book. I asked an officer in the SHU if he could bring me something to read. “What do you like to read,” he asked. “Anything, please,” was my response. He brought me Penny’s “The Brutal Telling,” the very book I was reading before going to “the hole.” I fanned through the pages to find where I left off, and I noticed a sentence underlined in the book. It annoyed me that someone would mar a Louise Penny book in that way, until I noticed what was underlined. “Give it time. It’ll be all right, you know that, don’t you?” As I was sitting in the tiny cell alone, I felt as if God was speaking through this woman directly to me. In “The Great Reckoning,” our hero Armand Gamache says: “Things are strongest when they are broken. We are all marred and scarred and imperfect. We make mistakes. We do things we deeply regret. We are tempted and sometimes give in to that temptation. Not because we are bad or weak, but because we are human. We are a crowd of faults. But know this: There is always a road back. If we have the courage to look for it and take it.” I think I am a little selfish in loving Gamache so much. I long to be as kind and forgiving as he because I long for others to be kind to me and to forgive me. I don’t know if Ms. Penny will ever know what her words have meant to me.
— Jeremy H.