I Know - Book Review

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I Know

Author: Stephen Bratcher
Genre: Fiction - Drama
Publisher: Createspaced
Date Published: February 2, 2022
ISBN-10: 153027222X
ISBN-13: 978-1530272228

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Book Review of :  I Know



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Stephen Bratcher, the author of I Know, has penned a searing, moving, and infuriating novella about being born into a desultory struggle in which escape seems impossible.  It is a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice.

The novel intertwines the lives of three distinct individuals with a fourth, Terry, as a catalyst. Terry's chance encounters with the three individuals leads into their stories via a flashback.  First, there is Teresa, whose attempts to do what is right, do well in school, and survive in a rough neighborhood are countered by the chaotic society she lives in. The reader is allowed to observe her life as it spirals downward. The author states that "you have to know where a person comes from…to understand" their decisions in life.    As Teresa's backstory is revealed, we learn that she is a typical young girl living in a tough neighborhood as part of a terribly dysfunctional family. Although she is determined to do well in school and be "a good girl," she is young and naïve. Through careful character development, Bratcher narrates Teresa's sad decline into doing what she "has to" to survive, and the sacrifices she is forced to make will anger and grip your heart.

Another character Terry encounters is a young boy referred to as JR, who lives with his younger brother, mom, and stepdad. He, too, tries to do well in school and is dedicated to improving his basketball skills. His goal to become a pro basketball player is becoming clearer, but his home life is deteriorating rapidly. The temptation to deal drugs for a known pusher is hard to resist when his stepdad is jailed, his mom disappears, and he is left responsible for his little brother with no income. He knows the challenges and consequences of his choices.

Thomas is another character from Terry's past that he encounters.   Through Thomas's backstory, the reader sees how desperation, bad choices, and bad friends can destroy a person's life. This narrative also shows how the American justice system is fraught with cases of wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice. If you have ever read Les Misérables, you will see parallels between Jean Valjean (prisoner 24601) and Thomas's dilemma of trying to get a job after getting out of prison. Valjean must display a yellow ticket of leave, which identifies him as an ex-convict ("On Parole"), which of course, makes his search for work futile. Thomas must inform his potential employers that he is an ex-con, making landing a job virtually impossible. His story is a realistic portrayal of the results of the failure of the courts to investigate and provide adequate counsel in criminal cases that are rushed through a broken legal system by an overzealous prosecution and a lack of proper financial and legal resources on the part of the defense. 

I Know is a gripping, evocative novella that will both knock you off balance and draw you in. 


Reviewed by: Carole W

About Stephen Bratcher





Comments

By: BrighamJohnsonDate: 05/01/2022 04:26:35
Very emotional & familiar occurances



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