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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

The Angel of Bang Kwang Prison

Another local production from Maverick House publishers this week, with The Angel of Bang Kwang Prison (ISBN 978-1-905379-32-3) written by Susan Aldous with Nicola Pierce, arriving.
In essence, this is the story of a young Australian tearaway who comes good, written by the tearaway herself (Susan Aldous). However, this is no “and they all lived happily ever after” kind of tale. In many ways it is a primer for those who want to see how to deal with life’s problems, both those initiated by ourselves, and those which are thrown upon us.
Initially the book appears almost over the top with descriptions of Susan’s teenage years. Surely no young woman could be so rebellious, especially as she had very forgiving parents, even though they were adoptive parents. However, having experienced a totally unruly teenaged step-daughter myself, I could understand this was someone telling it how it really was – warts and all. And it may shock some readers. Be warned.
A watershed happened when she was a late teenager, and she turned to a religious Christian group and fell in with them. She learned unselfish care for others, the complete antithesis of her previous lifestyle. She also put her trust in others, and believed that somehow, someone would provide. And be that directed from above or otherwise, somehow, someone has done just that. All her life.
As well as documenting (in a non judgmental way) life for inmates of a Thai prison, author Susan Aldous also allows the reader to enter her very innermost thoughts and emotions, as she forms a relationship with an incarcerated American drug addict. This relationship builds up into a true emotional attachment, known to everyone as an all-consuming love. It is however, not a description of being besotted, but again an in depth look one of the primary emotions that differentiates between us beings at the top of the food chain and other inhabitants of the planet.
The love story that survives through the bars of a prison for eight years is surely the stuff of “happily ever after” – but it is not, and with self revealing frankness Author Aldous shows how emotional bonds can be broken, especially where convoluted, drug induced thinking is involved.
The final chapter is probably the deepest revelation of the author’s true character. Written by her own daughter, it continues the warts and all look at life. The penultimate page contains the daughter’s description, “My mother is a classic example of a strong woman, a real woman, because, of course she is not perfect and she is not a saint and no, she does not flitter above us all with perfumed farts and angelic melodies to thrill all who suffer. In fact she’s tone deaf and a terrible singer. But, she does try her damnedest to make a difference and she does genuinely care about people.”
This is not a book showing the negative side of life, but is undoubtedly inspirational in the tale of this woman’s journey which eventually brought her to Bangkok and the Bang Kwang prison. At B. 495, it is an inexpensive inspiration!