Thursday, August 3, 2023

The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin Book Review

About the Book:

No one expects the police to knock on the million-dollar, two-story home of the perfect cul-de-sac housewife. But soccer mom Lara Love Hardin has been hiding a shady secret: she is funding her heroin addiction by stealing her neighbors’ credit cards.

Lara is convicted of thirty-two felonies and becomes inmate S32179. She learns that jail is a class system with a power structure that is somewhere between an adolescent sleepover party and Lord of the Flies. Furniture is made from tampon boxes and Snickers bars are currency. But Lara quickly finds the rules and brings love and healing to her fellow inmates as she climbs the social ladder to become the “shot caller,” showing that jailhouse politics aren’t that different from the PTA meetings she used to attend.

When she’s released, she reinvents herself as a ghostwriter. Now, she’s legally co-opting other people’s identities and getting to meet Oprah, meditate with The Dalai Lama, and have dinner with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But the shadow of her past follows her. Shame is a poison worse than heroin—there is no way to detox. Lara must learn how to forgive herself and others, navigate life as a felon on probation, prove to herself that she is more good than bad, and much more.

The Many Lives of Mama Loves is a heartbreaking and tender journey from shame to redemption, despite a system that makes it almost impossible for us to move beyond the worst thing we have ever done.

My Review:

This is quite a memoir. It is amazing that Hardin went from convicted felon to ghostwriting bestsellers and lunching with Oprah.

There comes an insightful experience in jail when she realizes she had quite writing as a means of making sense of her life. She had turned to drugs and that stopped her writing. Now, in jail and detoxed, she starts writing again. She writes short stories, essays, letters for others. She later finds that empathizing with her prison mates as a writing advocate was actually honing her skills for a later career as ghost writer.

Her experiences after jail were heart breaking. There is certainly a lack of a good way to help people get back into society in a productive way. Way too many end up back in jail. Hardin got a break when she was hired by man who did not ask about her past and had trust in her when it did come to light.

The is a well written memoir revealing the horrors of drug addiction and incarceration. It is also a story of survival, given the chance.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

You can watch her TED Talk here.

About the Author:

Lara Love Hardin
is a literary agent, author, and president of True Literary. Prior to founding True Literary, she was the co-Ceo of Idea Architects. She has an MFA in creative writing and is a four-time 
New York Times bestselling collaborative writer, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Designing Your Life, and 2018 Oprah Book Club pick, The Sun Does Shine, which she coauthored with Anthony Ray Hinton. In 2019 she won a Christopher Award for her work “affirming the highest values of the human spirit.” In 2019 she was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award and short-listed for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Love Hardin lives in La Selva Beach, California, with her husband, Sam. She has four children, two step-children, five dogs, three cats, twenty-one chickens, and four ducks. You can find out more at

Simon & Schuster, 320 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)

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