"A gritty, raw, and engrossing voice."—Publishers Weekly
I was a bad mother,
a bad daughter,
a bad wife, a bad friend.
Boozed out and tired,
with no dreams
and no future.
But I was a good officer.
Sara Lunsford helped cage the worst of the worst, from serial killers to sex criminals. At the end of every day, when she walked out the prison gate, she had to try to shed the horrors she witnessed. But the darkness invaded every part of her life, no matter how much she tried to immerse herself in a liquor bottle. She couldn't hide from the things that hurt her, the things that made her bleed, the things that still rise up in the dark and choke her.
With a magnetic, raw voice that you won't soon forget, Sweet Hell on Fire grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It's a hardscrabble climb from rock bottom to the new ground of a woman who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the joy of redemption, and the quiet haven to be found in hope.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is only the second book I have ever read in the setting of prison (the other one being Dreams from the Monster Factory by Sunny Schwartz). I was hesitant to enter into this world, because I knew that as much as I love this authors writing (she is fantastic romance novelist under a pen name)there would be tough moments in this. Once I started, I felt stupid for having waited so many months to dive in, because this was the best memoir I have read in a long time. Beautiful writing about a sometimes ugly period in author Sara Lunsford's life. I'm in awe. If you read one memoir this year, make this one it.
I just spent the last three days being taken on an emotional roller coaster through a year in the life of Sara Lunsford, a correctional officer who overcame herself and a traumatic incident. She came out stronger on the other side of that year despite life trying to knock her down. I straight up ugly cried at least four times throughout the memoir and laughed more than I could count. There were points while reading that I wished that I could reach through the pages and give the author a hug or an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. The brutal honesty and voyeuristic inside look captures you and speeds you through this book. Memoirs are not usually my cup of tea, but this one is different. It’s raw and honest from the corrections officers point of view. Ms. Lunsford is one of toughest women I have had the pleasure of speaking with, and her strength shines through the pages. I already look up to her because of her incredible talent as a writer; yet, today, I sit in awe of her. I sincerely have a newfound respect for her besides her killer writing & editing skills. Sweet Hell on Fire was riveting and inspiring. It was raw, passionate, and the descriptive “show don’t tell” language made you feel as if you were within those pages. My words can’t begin to do this memoir justice.
This is an amazing story of coming out the other side, of making the decision to be happy. There are two parts to this story work and the rest of her life. This book takes you through a pivotal year in the author’s life. Sara is a strong and effective correctional officer. Sara is also a young mother struggling with her inner demons. This story tells of her struggles and will leave you feeling better about the world. I could totally relate to this story but am not strong enough (or a good enough writer) to bleed all over the page. It took incredible courage to write this story and I applaud the author’s courage. Choose to be happy.
Sometimes it's frightening when life imitates art and the monsters from the pages or screens appear in real life. Sweet Hell on Fire is a raw, eye-opening looking into a year in the life of correctional office turned writer, Sara Lunsford. I have to applaud Ms. Lunsford's bravery at laying out her world for all to see. It can't be easy to expose one's open wounds to be scrutinized by readers, to allow strangers into your intimate thoughts and fears, and to reveal all the dark secrets we desperately want to hide. As I read each day in Sara's life, the book made me laugh, want to cry, and think about the journey we all have to walk to find ourselves and love ourselves. Sometimes we forget that we don't all come from the same place. We look at situations and rationale from a jaded perspective. Sweet Hell on Fire gives us a mirror into a world filled with darkness, but a path lit with spark of kindness, respect, and love. It might not be formed in the molds of our own lives, but clearly present. You notice it in the inmates Ms. Lunsford interacted with in the correctional facility, the strained relationship with her family, the relationship with her husband and children, but most of all in her descriptions of herself. Sweet Hell on Fire is a uncensored view into Ms. Lunsford's life. It's not pretty. The language is brutal. But it is an honest, intriguing, and well written read. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely an excellent read.
If you work in the Corrections field, you will enjoy this book. It is more about her job and the daily struggles. It was a fast, easy read but I enjoyed it having worked in the field as a women for thirteen years
This is one of the first non-fiction books I've read. It wasn't what I expected though., which in a way was good and bad. It wasn't as disturbing as I thought it was going to be (which was good) When I first picked up the book not only was excited to read it but I was nervous. I was expecting some nasty stuff to be in this book, and don't get me wrong there was definitely some but it wasn't so bad. This story tells about Sara Lunsford and her job as a Corrections Officer in an all male facility. I wasn't completely disappointed in the book and I would recommend it to others but for me I think I made my expectations too high on what the book would entail and it was just shy for me. My own fault. I have to give Sara a lot of credit because while reading this, I kept thinking there was no way I could ever do that job. I give this book 3 1/2 hearts and if she were to ever write another book, I would for sure pick it up to read. Doing the job she did and struggle with her personal life outside of work Sara sounds like an amazing woman.