Becoming Ms. Burton

  • by Susan Burton, Cari Lynn
  • Narrated by Janina Edwards
  • 10 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

One woman's remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recovery - and recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement.
Susan Burton's world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van driving down their street. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted first to cocaine then to crack. As a resident of South Los Angeles, a black community under siege in the War on Drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for over 15 years; never was she offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility.
Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. Her organization, A New Way of Life, operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children - setting them on the track to education and employment rather than returning to prison. Becoming Ms. Burton not only humanizes the deleterious impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of lives of meaning and dignity.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This is the story of Burton’s life. The co-author is journalist and writer Cari Lynn. The first part of the book is about Burton’s early years in which she suffered from emotional neglect and sexual abuse. After Burton’s five-year-old son was killed by an automobile, she became a drug addict. This began years of being in and out of prison.

The second half of the book reveals her path to recovery. She formed a nonprofit organization entitled “A New Way of Life Reentry Project”. This organization helps other women stay out of prison and re-enter society. Burton has won many awards for her work and the Los Angeles Times named her one of the Nation’s New Civil Rights Leaders. She advocated for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity.

The book is well written and easy to read. Along with her life story, Burton also examines a number of issues in a broader context such as: How the lack of employment and housing opportunities increase the odds of a person returning to prison. She writes about ways to change these societal issues. Burton also provides statistics to reveal a fuller perspective of the problems of the prison system. Ms. Burton’s book not only inspires but educates.

The book is ten and a half hours long. Janina Edwards does a good job narrating the book. Edwards is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

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- Jean


Extremely eye-opening book that describes the struggles that so many millions of Americans face, which we rarely hear about. Inspiring, with the message that each person can make a difference. And hardships and struggles can be turned into an asset!
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- Betty

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-09-2017
  • Publisher: Audible Studios