June 23, 2010

TLC BOOK TOUR: In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

"Daddy is going to camp. That's what I told my children. A child psychologist suggested it. "Words like prison and jail conjure up dangerous images for children," she explained. But it wasn't camp. It was prison."
Neil White's memoir of doing time at Carville for bank fraud is a very eye-opening and thought-provoking look into the prison system, the lives of prisoners, and also into the lives of people afflicted by leprosy.

Because Carville is not only for federal inmates, it is also a hospital and a leper colony.

Carville is beautiful but it is full of what society deems to be ugly people- criminals and disfigured leprosy patients. White decides to use his time at Carville as a journalist, learning the stories of the outcasts of Carville. He makes friends with people he never would have known on the outside. He weaves together a story that makes the reader take pause and consider their own prejudices, their own personal failures, and their own need for something more than what they are given.

Although I thought the pace slowed down in places, overall, the book was fascinating and really made me think about my own life. How many choices have I made that could have landed me somewhere different had I chosen differently? Only every choice I've ever made. How many times have I even ever given much thought to prisoners or leprosy patients either one? Hardly a passing thought. It made me realize how little I know of what being a true "outcast" is like. Sure, I've felt like an outcast when I was in high school, and sure I've felt different because I have a disability. But the challenges that these people face are vastly different and more intense.

I probably never would have made the connection between the stigmas of criminals and leprosy patients had I not read this book. I recommend it and I look forward to reading your thoughts, too.

TLC Book Tour Schedule for In the Sanctuary of Outcasts:

Wednesday, June 2nd: Book Nook Club

Wednesday, June 9th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Thursday, June 10th: Lit and Life

Monday, June 14th: Heart 2 Heart

Thursday, June 17th: Tales of a Capricious Reader

Tuesday, June 22nd: lit*chick

Wednesday, June 23rd: Lost in Books

Thursday, June 24th: Wordsmithonia

Monday, June 28th: Michelle’s Masterful Musings

Tuesday, June 29th: Chocolate & Croissants

Wednesday, June 30th: A Bookshelf Monstrosity

BOOK #: 40
RATING: 4 Stars
INCLUDED FOR THESE CHALLENGES: 100+ in 2010, Memoir Challenge, New Authors Challenge
GENRE: Memoir
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/352
HEY, FCC!: I was given this book for review for this book tour. I was not compensated monetarily.


  1. I'd like to suggest a follow up book for you and your readers written by my dissertation director:

    Carville: Remembering Leprosy in America, by Marcia Gaudet


    It's a really complete look into the Carville and the folklore surrounding the hospital.

  2. My husband would be interested in this one. Me...I'm not sure. Great review on it!

  3. I love books like this that make me think!

  4. I think the last time I heard the word "leprosy" was while teaching Ancient and Medieval Literature a few years ago, before that...college. And now in the past two months, I have heard of three separate books that either feature leprosy or at least have it in the title. Very strange...

  5. I don't think I would have made the connections between criminals and people with leprosy either -- the book sounds interesting.

  6. Hmm, sounds like an eye opening book for sure. From a few degrees of separation, i "know" someone who went away for bank fraud. not good. not good at all.

  7. This does sound interesting ... but I wonder how it became a prison/leper colony in the first place. It just doesn't seem to fit together in some ways.

  8. I almost never read books set in Louisiana, but I've heard very good things about this book. My mother read it recently, and she said that the author, while very self-aware, sounded a bit like a sociopath. Did you find that at all?

  9. Wow. I don't think I've thought much about what it must be like to be an outcast either. I think it's fascinating that the author saw humans, people with stories, whereas most probably just saw the leprosy.

    Thanks for being on this tour!

  10. I just found this so fascinating. Since I had read about the colony twice, I used it in an All Things In Common feature on my blog and was so excited to hear from the director of the National Hansen's Disease Program (http://litandlife.blogspot.com/2010/06/sunday-salon-june-19.html)

  11. This book sounds fascinating and very thought provoking! It seems so strange that prisoners are housed in the same place as leprosy patients. I think it's great that White wrote up the stories of many of the outcasts at Carville, although I don't like that they are called outcasts. I think more people would be happier in their lives and realize how fortunate they are if the heard what many disfigured, disabled people who are outcasts have gone through in their lives.

    This is a great review!
    ~ Amy

  12. This is the second review I've read today about a book concerning prison inmates. And both of the reviews made me think back to my ethics class where we discussed the treatment of criminals. Granted, it was a brief unit that focused mostly on capital punishment but it did spike my interest. After all, how often do we really think about the criminal justice system? Still, despite the fact that it isn't an everyday discussion topic, it needs reformation. This definitely sounds like an interesting and very thought-provoking book.

    Jennifer @ www.justicejennifer.com


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