This is really an amazing story. My review of Donna Hylton’s A Little Piece of Light: A Memoir of Hope, Prison, and a Life Unbound first appeared in Shelf Awareness for Readers. I am posting it here today with their permission. As a side note, this story is in development for as a film staring Rosario Dawson.
I was three years old, barefoot against the chilled concrete floor in the back of a pub on William Street in my birthplace of Port Antonio, Jamaica, surrounded by blue lagoons, white sand beaches, waterfalls, and caves.
The first half of Hylton’s story is heart breaking and difficult to consume. There is a complete lack of love and safety in her life: an unstable mother who sells Hylton as a young girl, adoptive parents who abuse her, people who violate her trust, raping her body and soul. The realization that such horrors can and do happen in the United States is alarming and unsettling. But A Little Piece of Light shines a brilliant beam directly on them.
As a result of her tumultuous youth, a nineteen-year-old Hylton winds up in the middle of a kidnapping that ends in murder. A jury convicts Hylton for her part in the crimes, and she’s sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. But behind the barbed wire fences and cinderblock walls of the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, Hylton finds the family she’s so desperately desired. Caring for a fellow inmate with HIV, creating a program to consul and educate prisoners about AIDS and participating in a domestic violence group, Hylton finds meaning in her life. While the compassion and kindness of those around her allow Hylton to blossom and realize her potential.
A Little Piece of Light is a big reminder of how people share much more in common than not. Even more importantly, it’s a beacon capable of leading others out of the darkness that Hylton endured.
A Little Piece of Light is available from Hachette Books in hardcover and ebook. It’s also available as an audiobook from Blackstone Audio, narrated by Donna Hylton.