(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

According to Sands, he wrote his autobiography to reach a broader audience than that which he found by talking to people in prisons, high schools, colleges, and communities. Throughout the book, Sands willingly opens his life for scrutiny in order to interpret his change from a rebellious robber and prisoner to a considerate individual working to benefit others. The preface by former warden Duffy supports this idea and the author’s analysis of himself. As indicated in My Shadow Ran Fast, a newspaper reporter was to write Sands’s biography but lost interest after a scholarship business effort failed to materialize. Therefore, with the support of his wife, her daughter, and the Duffys, Sands decided to write his own story. The subject matter and its treatment in the resulting autobiography offer insight into the development of a man who encourages youths to enter college rather than to commit crimes and who assists prisoners and former prisoners in adjusting to a world that still holds obstacles.

Sands evokes sympathy by describing actions instead of feelings as he reports his beatings. Using the same removed approach, he relates his rebellious acts, his plotting to prove that his father does not love or want him, his prison experiences, and his attempts to receive some recognition from his mother. Although using a first-person narrative voice he writes of his pain, rebellion, assertiveness, and defiance as if he were standing aside and seeing the events happen to someone else.

Despite his defiance in the robberies, Sands expresses no blame or resentment toward his accomplices, even the one who willingly and unnecessarily confessed. His need for recognition...

(The entire section is 692 words.)