In August 2009, Brown-Jack’s youngest daughter phoned with “unbelievable news” about her father (unnamed in the book): “a shameful allegation…that didn’t fit his character.” Brown-Jack’s husband was soon arrested on an aggravated felony charge; readers never learn the exact nature of the alleged crime. Through 2013, the author struggled with worries, many of them financial. Bail bonding was expensive; the family’s financial statements disqualified them from a court-appointed attorney, but without savings, they couldn’t afford much. The family car was repossessed. Friends had to help with groceries. Another source of turmoil was the long delay in trying the case. It was dismissed, then refiled; the first trial ended in a hung jury; the prosecution seemed willing to delay endlessly when Brown-Jack’s husband refused to take a plea bargain; the family went through five lawyers. A deeply religious woman, Brown-Jack saw the experience as a test of her faith, ending her book on a grateful note. The difficulty for readers, however, is that the “other side” of the story has little impact when the story itself is a mystery. The author is cagey about embarrassing details, understandable in real life but frustrating in a memoir. Her husband remains a blank page, readers learning little about him except that he had a military career. Another unanswered question is why Brown-Jack, a law enforcement officer with friends and relatives who are attorneys, sees herself as a naïve outsider to legal proceedings: “the day we went to court…was my first experience with the justice system at that level”; “We did not trust the criminal justice system.” Brown-Jack does convincingly demonstrate the wrenching, time-consuming, expensive tangle posed by legal difficulties. But while she intends to promote trust in God, she continually suggests that bad things happen only to those who deserve it through lack of faith: “because of…my faithfulness, God didn’t bring my family to open shame.” Some readers may find this an unkind presumption.
Heartfelt but opaque.