Kruzan powerfully chronicles the story of how she killed the man who abused and trafficked her during her teen years.
A testament to both the capricious nature of the American criminal justice system and the power of hope, Kruzan’s book, co-written by Thomas, is a harrowing and eye-opening account of how easily things can go wrong. Because the author’s story is not unique, it’s that much more heartbreaking. Raised by an abusive single mother in decrepit houses and consistently dangerous circumstances, Kruzan describes her life in unflinching but compassionate detail. Having established at the beginning of the text that she killed a man, who called himself GG, we’re swiftly taken back to the makeshift bedroom of a little girl who only ever wanted to make her mother smile and who could be easily won over with ice cream. The narrative moves fast, giving readers a palpable sense of Kruzan’s helplessness to stop what was happening as she was swept up in physical and sexual abuse and groomed by GG to be a trafficked child. By the time she was 16, she writes, “my biggest wish would be to be rescued from him and everything he had introduced me to.” Before the age of 18, Kruzan was convicted of murder and sent to prison for life without parole. Commendably, amid the many dark parts of the book, the author takes time to highlight, with gratitude, the bright spots. Despite all the people who did her wrong, she is diligent about naming the many people who offered assistance, including teachers, neighbors, friends, and friends’ families. Later, Kruzan writes poignantly about the tenderness and sisterhood she discovered in prison. Overwhelmingly, she notes, her fellow incarcerated women were kind and thoughtful, often victims of the same system that caused the author so many years of suffering.
A must-read for parents, civil servants, and activists.