If your writing is to be believed, experience is the best teacher. However, that’ll be a tragedy, if you’re writing about prisons. Nonetheless, C.P. Henderson, a retired federal employee, tells very interesting stories without the incarceration experience.
What I’ve learned about Henderson is that she took an old fashion way to get information about fictional characters—she took pen to paper and became pen pals with some incarcerated people.
She did a good job in the 11 short stories that brings readers into the closed life of prisoners who reformed themselves through spirituality.
Take Two: A Collection of Short Stories (2018) begins with a story about a crime, difficult to comprehend and forgive the offender of committing. However, Henderson’s writing style gets readers to understand that people have the capacity to change and that once that has happened, the person is no longer the crime that has landed them in prison.
“Should we forget the person is still a human being despite having committed a crime (sometimes even the most heinous of crimes)?” Henderson writes in the book’s prologue.
Each story finds redeeming qualities in its characters to show what remorse looks like through actions and the willingness to give back to commit themselves to their community.
The story topics range from surviving the prison experience, the wondering mind of what prison life is like, such as living in a confined space with a stranger to the efforts that one might take to prevent another person from going down the same path of destruction. The result of free readers reading these kinds of stories is access to a foreign world with authenticity.
As an example, the following description is relatable to the coffee drinking incarcerated person:
The one thing he’d been able to enjoy during his time behind the walls was coffee. It was always instant, but he’d mastered the best recipe on his tier. Two packs of Taster’s Choice house blend, a splash of 2% milk and a couple dunks of a honey bun to add sugar. The way the icing would slide off the honey bun and made a white spiral of goodness made his mouth begin to water.
Not all the stories fall into the feel good mode as the reality of prison life, getting out and adjusting to the free world are all challenging, has its difficulties and every rehabilitated person knows that relapse is a part of recovery. With that, incarcerated readers get a glimpse of what to expect and some of the obstacles to a successful reentry.
Take Two i s “ filled with dreams, aspirations, and goals of men and women who’ve made a mistake and are currently paying for it with something most take for granted… time,” its back cover reads.
C.P. Henderson graduated from Angelo State University with a bachelor’s degree in Medical Technology. While on active duty in the United States Air Force, she earned a Master’s in Forensic Science.
Take Two is her third novel. C.P. and her charismatic Cavachon Steve currently resides in Central Connecticut.