Razor Wire Wilderness

by Stephanie Dickinson

Longtime author Stephanie Dickinson straddles the lines of true crime and memoir in “Razor Wire Wilderness,” (May 18, Kallisto Gaia Press) as she examines the lives of those affected by violence in this immaculately assembled account that takes readers directly inside incarceration and face to face with inmates.

Krystal Riordan watched as her boyfriend beat a teenage Jennifer Moore to death in a vermin-infested New Jersey hotel room. Could she have stopped it? Or could she be his next victim? Now, Krystal is serving a maximum 30-year sentence, while the man who beat Jennifer to death received only a 50-year sentence. So what does it take to survive in a maximum security lockdown for 30 years? Is it possible to thrive? 

The answers only lead to more questions in Dickinson’s raw and emotional look into the criminal justice system and how it’s failed not just one but countless victims of violence. And what unfolds is a beautiful depiction of moral ambiguity, loss and redemption within the confines of the prison walls and beyond.

My thoughts: This book is gritty, yet beautifully written. Much of it is about Krystal Riordan’s time in prison for being part of the murder of a teenage Jennifer Moore. Krystal’s boyfriend beat the girl to death in their nasty hotel room in front of her. It shares a lot of prison interaction and gives a glimpse of what it’s like for Krystal. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Stephanie Dickinson, and the publisher.

Razor Wire Wilderness

Publisher: Kallisto Gaia Press
Publication: May 18th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– Stephanie Dickinson has lived in Iowa, Texas, Louisiana and now New York City, a state unto itself. Her work appears in Hotel Amerika, Mudfish, Weber Studies, Fjords, Cherry Tree, Water-Stone Review, Gargoyle, Rhino, Stone Canoe, Westerly, and New Stories from the South, among others. Her novels are Half Girl and Love Highway, based on the 2006 Jennifer Moore murder. Heat: An Interview with Jean Seberg, was released by New Michigan Press, and her hybrid collection, The Emily Fables, is just out from ELJ Publications. Her work has received multiple distinguished story citations in the Pushcart Anthology, Best American Short Stories, and Best American Mysteries. She is the editor of Rain Mountain Press.

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