Wow, this book is astonishing. Dr Rebecca Myers writes about sexual offenders and – yes, I can hardly believe I am thinking, let alone writing this – manages to make you feel not horror (or at least not only horror), but empathy for them.
It is a very, very well-written, thoughtful book. It mainly centers on the treatment of a group of men following the Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme (SOTP) in a high-security prison in Yorkshire.
These are men who have done terrible things. Myers brings the reader on a journey where you get to know these men, to understand some pertinent details of their background, to witness them as they gain insights into their own behaviour. She humanises them, and presents them with empathy, while never, even for a moment, condoning what they did. Hell, she even makes you feel some empathy for the ones who are obviously abusing the programme, haven’t an iota of remorse and would clearly do it again given the chance!
It’s an engrossing book, but painful, as you are faced with some horrendous details of crimes. But Myers is not doing this in a voyeuristic thrill-seeking way. She really forces you to listen, to try to understand rather than outright condemn.
I applaud Myers and others who devote their lives to trying to help men like that, not necessarily for their own sake but for the benefit of society and to make people safer. I absolutely applaud the bravery and civic duty.
As for me, I’ve gained a modicum of empathy but I confess that I still want those men locked up — and throw away the key. To put it mildly.
Thanks to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for providing an ARC. All my reviews are 100% honest no matter how I acquire the book.
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