Monday, November 10, 2008

One Book One Community at Lancaster County Prison

Community reading is a liberating experience at the Lancaster County Prison.
For the past six years, One Book, One Community book discussions have been happening at the Lancaster County Prison. GED students were asked to read this year’s One Book selection, The Grace That Keeps This World by Tom Bailey in preparation for the scheduled book discussion, led by Mary Ann Heltshe-Steinhauer, Community Relations Manager for the Library System. The informal discussions centered on the community book have been very popular in the past and this year was no exception. This year’s title The Grace That Keeps This World, a story set in the Adirondack community of Lost Lake, is a powerful narrative about the shared values that underlie and sustain human relationships. Ultimately, it is a tale of profound loss, human fallibility, and the love—romantic, neighborly, or familial—that can sometimes blur our line of vision. The story also explores the relationships between a father and his two sons. Each year, the insights that the prison students share during the book groups have been impressive. Many of the students begin an interest in reading while being incarcerated. As one student said, “I have lots of time on my hands right now and reading helps to pass the time.” During one the discussions, a student compared the main character of the novel with his grandfather who was a strict but loving man, “Before my grandfather died, I didn’t tell him that I loved him…I wonder if he knew. All of us (grandchildren) still remember his lessons.”

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