Suburban raised and Ivy League educated, Amy Friedman is an American writer living in Ontario, Canada. A minor celebrity, she writes a newspaper column about whatever pleases her--subjects as far flung as life on the sheep farm she shares with her lover; South African apartheid; good bourbon; flying a Cessna. Her life seems charmed. Then one day a local prison volunteer challenges her to write about the prisons that surround her adopted city.
Prison is in her blood; her grandfather and her father both were prisoners of war, and Friedman has always fought for the rights of those less fortunate than she. At a nearby medium security penitentiary she meets administrators and guards as well as dozens of prisoners, among them the chairman of the inmate committee: Will is a handsome, charming Lifer who turned down a college hockey scholarship to join a motorcycle gang. Now he is serving year 7 of a 13-to-Life sentence for murdering another drug dealer. And yes, Will is guilty. But he is also one of the few men Friedman trusts is telling her the truth about life inside. When prison administrators tell her she can no longer talk to him--guards have complained he's too political--Friedman rebels. And that rebellion results in banishment from prison.
Everything begins to unravel as Friedman gives up the idea of writing about prison and instead signs on to be Will's visitor. As she falls in love with him, friends and colleagues ostracize her, but when they are threatened with separation, they marry behind prison walls. Friedman becomes part of a world once entirely unknown to her. When Will's two daughters move in with her, what was once a literary life becomes a battle against prison officials and politicians, a struggle to keep the family afloat, and a steep journey toward learning just what justice is for those on the inside, and for their loved ones. One Woman Army writer and activist Claire Culhane becomes Friedman's friend and champion. Friedman shares time with her husband in prison trailers, and she finds out who her true friends are. For seven years together they work towards his parole.
When he is released on day parole, Will is unprepared for life outside. As he disintegrates, so does the marriage. What remains is a stronger, if sadder woman, a vital and loving bond with the girls she has helped to raise as her own, and deep insights about what is happening to those millions and millions of innocents who happen to love someone inside. This is a book anyone who has ever loved against the odds will cherish, for it is about what love can and cannot do.