Keri Blakinger tells her harrowing story about addiction to drugs and disordered eating in her memoir, Corrections in Ink. She lands in prison and reconstructs her experience from scribbled journals kept on purloined paper that miraculously survived the cruelty of fellow inmates as well as correctional officers.

First, Blakinger examines the impact of a privileged childhood on her behaviors. She attends a private school in a small Pennsylvania city. When not in school, she figure skates competitively. This combination of high-achieving parents, athletics, and academic goals leads Blakinger into the world of anorexic and bulimic eating patterns.

When this doesn’t address her life stress well enough, Blakinger turns to cutting and street drugs. She leaves home, skating, and high school. But despite living on the streets, she has academic ambitions. Balancing all of these aspects of her life comes to a crashing halt while Blakinger studies at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. She’s arrested for dealing heroin and spends time in jail and prison, chronicling her experience along the way.

My conclusions

This is a bleak read about a mixed-up young woman. However, Blakinger arrives at the other side of her prison sentence with the same purpose and drive that fueled her skating career. But it has a practical, mature focus that her younger self lacked. Her post-prison advocacy for people formerly and currently incarcerated is admirable.

Blakinger’s detailed recollections emphasize her failures and acknowledge her privilege as they should. She’s a white woman with parental support, even though it’s sometimes tentative. That puts her in a better situation than most other women in prison. Still, she makes plenty of mistakes before and during her prison experience. The parent in me often wanted to shake some sense into her.

In terms of writing style, Blakinger pares stories down to bare bones. Page after page is hard-hitting and emotionally distant, which reflects the realities of prison life. Reading small amounts each night helped buffer the challenging memoir, although I often read more than I intended. Her situation pulled me in.

This is a strong choice if you like memoirs about a turbulent life. Pair this book with A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett.