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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Wasabara: Brothers in Arms is an autobiography written by Elan Wasabara. The author made some mistakes as he was growing up. His childhood was dominated by his love of classical music and the close relationship he enjoyed with his mom. He did, however, fall into the trap of drugs as a young man and was taken advantage of by a dealer who used him as an unwitting transporter of heroin. Elan did clean up his act, became gainfully employed and was planning to marry his fiancee within a month when a knock on his apartment door signaled the start of a very difficult part of his life. Within just a few months of the expiration of the statute of limitations on any possible involvement with that dealer, Elan was arrested and offered a choice: cooperate with the feds or go to jail. When he realized that his cooperation would endanger his mom and his family, he chose to accept the mandatory plea offered -- which meant he’d be in jail for five years with supervision for four years thereafter. After his jail term was over, a time when many ex-cons succumb to the stress of reintegration into society and end up back in jail, Elan found an unusual ally in the most unexpected of places -- a shopping mall. He was drawn to the joy and exuberance displayed by the patrons of a pet store where puppies were on display. One puppy, a scrawny, snaggle-toothed boxer pup, snagged Elan’s heart, and they’ve been best friends ever since.
Elan Wasabara’s autobiography, Wasabara: Brothers in Arms, is an absorbing and inspirational memoir of the author’s survival of the harsh mandatory sentence that was the hallmark of the War on Drugs. Unlike so many others, who were never quite able to recover their lives after their experiences during their incarceration, Elan, with the loving assistance of his wife and his 'brother in arms,' Guapo, the boxer, not only stayed out of jail, but he’s prospered as an IT professional. Elan’s accounts of his time in jail are masterfully shared, especially his descriptions of the fellow inmates who gave him advice and counsel, and the books and authors who inspired him. His determination to learn and make something out of the time he was in prison is motivational and moving. This deceptively short autobiography manages to share so much of the author’s life and experiences after his incarceration, especially that part of the account which relates to Guapo and their adventures together. There are two heroes in this story, and reading about them was sheer delight. Wasabara: Brothers in Arms is most highly recommended.