My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“’Oh my Lord, what have I done!’ I gasped. I stared out the kitchen window as six violent criminals stomped up my driveway” – Brenda Spahn (Miss Brenda and the Loveladies – Kindle Location 74).
Brenda Spahn had dreamed about and prepared for this day. Not only had she redone each of the bedrooms in the large house that was now being re-purposed into a release center for women from Julia Tutwiler Prison. She had also hired a driver, a cook, and a house-mother/manager to run the program.
But only hours later she found herself alone with the six newly released inmates—the driver, cook and house-mother having all quit at the first sight of the scary guests.
Spahn doesn’t quit. In Miss Brenda and the Loveladies she tells the stories of those first guests and the early days of The Lovelady Center of Birmingham Alabama—now one of the largest faith-based centers in the U.S. for released women prisoners as well as women with domestic abuse, addiction, homelessness, and other issues.
The story is inspirational as we see those first six being transformed from angry, suspicious women with low self-esteem to women who themselves reach out to, lead, and serve others within the center and the larger community. Spahn’s philosophy of discovering the latent potential in each throwaway life and then helping each achieve her new destiny has, since the program’s beginning in 2004, impacted thousands of lives.
Spahn tells the story in first-person, using casual language and descriptions of people and events that bring to life her new friends and her feisty redheaded self. She also does lots of telling on herself, saying more than once that she needed these women as much as they needed her. Her transparency about her challenges, faults, and mistakes makes her a believable and likeable narrator.
Miss Brenda and the Loveladies is a testimony to the power of a dream, obedience to God, and determination. It’s a quick, interesting read, full of pathos and humor.
The story of these women opened my eyes to how I snap-judge people without having a clue what they’ve been through. The story of the Lovelady Center helped me see how God can turn seemingly insurmountable obstacles into the stepping stones to success.
I received Miss Brenda and the Loveladies as a gift from the publisher, Waterbrook Press via Blogging for Books, for the purpose of writing a review.