A criminal justice reform advocate’s story about how her personal history of abuse and poor judgment led to incarceration for crimes she did not commit.
Hylton was barely 8 when she left her native Jamaica with Americans Daphne and Roy, who promised her a “magical” trip to Disney World. Instead, she found herself in New York, the unwitting adopted daughter of a cold woman and her sexual predator husband. A school guidance counselor later confronted Daphne with Hylton’s story of sexual abuse, but Daphne denied it and forced Hylton to apologize. Desperate to flee a dysfunctional family situation, the author applied for a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. In her confusion, she ran away with Roy’s friend Alvin, who offered sanctuary but instead made her pregnant. She spent the remainder of her teens trying to be “a mother, find a job, and straighten out my life” and recovering from a series of rapes. Eventually, she found a stable job as a shop clerk and befriended a woman named Maria, who promised she would help Hylton find money to begin a modeling career. Instead, Maria drew the author into a web of mob intrigue that led to Hylton’s wrongful conviction for kidnapping and second-degree murder. Over the next 25 years in prison, she came into contact with women of all backgrounds—including “Long Island Lolita” Amy Fisher—who had also been victims of molestation and abuse. Hylton formed powerful relationships with them and became involved in prison groups promoting pathways beyond hopelessness and despair. Intimate and disturbing, the book reveals the ways women are silenced and victimized in society, and it also tells the inspiring story of how one woman survived a prison nightmare to go on to help other incarcerated women “speak out about the violence in their lives.”
A wrenching memoir of overcoming seemingly insurmountable abuse and finding fulfillment.