Sentenced Book Review


Reviewed by Amanda Hayes

Valentine’s gifts can be tricky to buy, especially if you like to steer away from the traditional, flowers, chocolates, or jewellery, or you are looking for a small item to add to your normal sweet treat. We all love reading in our house so a book would be our go to gift, but what do you choose that’s romantic but not slushy. If your partner, like mine, is an avid reader, yet not into traditional love stories then the memoir, Sentenced, would be the perfect option.
Ideal as a gift for any gender, Sentenced, is a true story following the lives of two people between 1998 & 2013. Andy is a prisoner in Thailand, sentenced to life in the notorious Bangkok Hilton for drug trafficking. Vicky is a housewife, and mother of four from London. The memoir is written mainly as a selection of letters from 2006 onwards as they become pen pals and friends purely by chance. Vicky’s children end up in Thailand on their University gap years in the early years of Andy’s incarceration and visit him, partially I think, just to say they have visited a lifer in Bangkok. Friendships develop and before long Vicky herself begins to write and in return receives letters from Andy.
Andy’s letters show a fascinating insight into the workings of the prison, and day to day prison life. They speak of how he gets through every day, from the friends he makes, food he eats and the sleeping arrangements. The book tells of the transition from prison newbie to long timer and the privileges that come along with time spent.

Vicky’s letters begin about her family, but over the years, become more about the problems in her marriage, the split from her husband, the reasons behind it, and their subsequent divorce. The letters are deep, meaningful and heart breaking interspersed with pockets of joy. Throughout the book you can tell Vicky feels a lot of guilt, not only by burdening a stranger with her woes, but also because of her privileged lifestyle, which she tries to keep from Andy as far as possible.

As Andy gets a full pardon and finally leaves Bangkok, the story continues on the difficult transition phase between years of noisy and busy prison to the quiet and sometimes loneliness of his release. This is combined with the problems with finding somewhere to live and fending for himself both financially and in simple tasks such as cooking and eating. Drinking and cigarettes become his solace much to Vicky’s dislike. The tale is bittersweet but there is a happy ending, or as happy as it can be, and the book is full of love and hope making it perfect for an alternative Valentines gift.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sentenced, written by Andrew Hawke & Victoria Oak and published by Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd is available from all good book shops and Amazon at a RRP of £11.99. I highly recommend it as a gift for others or just purchase it for yourself for a fascinating and intriguing insight into prison life.

This product can be purchased from all good bookshops RRP £11.99

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