Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* As her subtitle implies, true-crime writer and essayist Marzano-Lesnevich here combines two genres, and the result is surprising, suspenseful, and moving. Ricky Langley, living in small-town Louisiana in 1992, is a convicted pedophile trying to turn his life around. He has been mildly successful until he meets six-year-old Jeremy, whom he confesses to murdering; later the boy's body is found in the room Ricky rents. In 2003, Marzano-Lesnevich begins an internship at a Louisiana law firm that's working to convert Ricky's death sentence to life in prison. She is drawn to the law not only because her parents were both lawyers but because she doesn't believe in the death penalty and wants to defend those sentenced to it. Only after seeing Ricky's taped confession does she believe he deserves to die. He is a living reminder of abuse Marzano-Lesnevich suffered as a young child, and as she delves deeper into both her and Ricky's childhoods, she discovers further connections, and each story begins to bleed into the other. The subject matter is difficult, and the author doesn't shy away from graphic descriptions, but readers are rewarded with a book that defies both its genres, turning into something wholly different and memorable.--Sexton, Kathy Copyright 2017 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In this haunting hybrid of memoir and true crime account, Marzano-Lesnevich describes how a law school internship set her on a collision course with Ricky Langley, a pedophile and murderer, forcing her to contend with past trauma and preexisting prejudice. Langley was sentenced to death for the 1992 murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory, a sentence that was overturned after a surprising request for leniency by the victim's mother. In an impeccably researched account, Marzano-Lesnevich explores Langley's childhood, his repeated efforts to get help, suicide attempts, and a prior prison sentence, during which he told a therapist, "'Don't let me out of here.'" The author draws parallels to her own history of sexual abuse and the family members who failed to confront her abuser, and she recounts her later battles with an eating disorder and PTSD. Marzano-Lesnevich excels at painting an atmospheric portrait: a staircase becomes an ominous symbol, and a house's peeling paint looks like "a skin worn by a creature who lurked underneath." The dual narratives are infinitely layered, as Marzano-Lesnevich allows for each person's motivations and burdens to unspool through the pages. Her writing is remarkably evocative and taut with suspense, with a level of nuance that sets this effort apart from other true crime accounts. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review
During an internship in law school, -Marzano-Lesnevich (public policy, Harvard Kennedy Sch.) viewed the videotaped confession of a man convicted of murdering a six-year-old boy and possibly molesting him. In an instant, though a lifelong opponent of the death penalty, she wished death upon Ricky Langley. Struggling to pinpoint this new, aggressive feeling, the author began to dig deeper into not only Langley's story but also her own, parallel in disturbing and heart-wrenching ways. Half memoir, half crime investigation, this book alternates among the present, past, and everywhere in between within each of their lives. Marzano-Lesnevich was the victim of sexual abuse by her grandfather, which her parents discovered and halted, only to remain silent on the matter. Descriptions of the murder and sexual abuse throughout are often graphic, and readers may be cautioned. The author describes the court case Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co., which contends with the issue of fault-who or what is the initial cause for blame. She poses a greater philosophical and legal question of one's past and how that determines cause in an exquisite and thought-provoking comparison study. VERDICT The writing is superb and gripping and never heavy-handed on the legal jargon, creating a moving must-have for any collection. [See Prepub Alert, 11/27/16.]-Kaitlin Malixi, Bucks Cty. Free Lib., Doylestown, PA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.