Disempowered

A Novel Based On A True Story

Fiction - General
374 Pages
Reviewed on 05/21/2013
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite

It is 2003, and Pamela Beasley works for social services as a case manager. Three months later, however, she is charged with health care fraud and laundering. She is then sent to spend time behind bars where she learns how it is to fight for survival on a daily basis, facing lies, secrecy, violence and bullying. However, amidst the daily struggle, she meets new friends including Nega, a dentist’s wife, and finds courage, compassion and sympathy in the middle of a chaotic environment. In a system that hides ills disguised as “federal justice,” she tries to solve her case and to search for the truth. Eventually she will find shocking information that will shed light on her case, a long time after her first day in incarceration.

The book is based on a real incident from the author’s life and her search for the truth, while being a victim of a seemingly effective yet twisted system. More than just a fictionalized recounting of events, it is a story of emancipation, a story of women and equality. Pamela Beasley’s book reveals to us the shocking truth through her own experiences in federal prison, and shows us, up close, just how cruel and alarming situations are, not just behind bars, but in the unfair treatment that women, in general, receive as well. Despite the grim circumstances that the characters find themselves in, the book is one of hope, and of how beautifully it can shine through to give us strength in trying times. "Disempowered" is a compelling story of hope and about about how women know well how to endure the most trying of circumstances.

Natasha Jackson

Pamela Beasley’s "Disempowered" is the true story of how a social worker who dedicated her life to helping others ends up in a federal prison charged with fraud money laundering. Making the adjustment from upstanding citizen to federal inmate takes some time as Pam has to deal with violent confrontations, bullies and the infamous prison hierarchy. But along the way Pam finds a way to allow several women into her heart and her circle of trust. The women, Nega, Erica and Natasha, become great friends of Pam with Nega ultimately becoming her closest friend.

On the surface "Disempowered" is a story about justice and injustice, but really it is a story of female friendship and how women lean on one another through even the bleakest of times. Taken from Beasley’s own personal experience, "Disempowered" takes the reader on a journey through the criminal justice system and the federal prison system and it describes the difficulty to deal with it all.

At times the story gets bogged down in the story of others, much to the detriment of Beasley’s own tale but that in no way takes away from the compelling nature of the story. The introductory prison dialogue is stilted but there are only so many questions you can ask strangers in a federal prison camp. The ending will throw the readers for a loop, one not every reader will enjoy or sympathize with but will certainly incite a reaction. Perhaps there could have been a little more fiction in this tale to infuse it with a bit more life, but most of the story will keep the reader involved right to the end.