Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In My Shadow Ran Fast, Bill Sands, known as Wilber Power Sewell or his prison number (66836) until he became an entertainer, analyzes the lack of love from his parents, his resulting rebellion expressed through armed robberies, his rehabilitation, his search for fulfillment through various adventures, and his ability to help others approach life positively. In this very personal autobiography, Sands openly narrates his experiences from age twelve until his early forties. The fifteen chapters are divided into three books. Book 1 (chapters 1 through 5) ends with his release from prison. Book 2 (chapters 6 through 13) chronicles his varied adventures and his recognition that his role is one of service. Book 3 (chapters 14 and 15) depicts his support of former convicts and his efforts to help other people stay out of prison.

Book 1 outlines Sands’s pain when, at the age of twelve, he concluded that neither of his divorcing parents wanted him. Because his mother sadistically beat him as a child and he assumed that his father did not love him, Sands struck out at his parents and society through armed robberies while he was a teenager. His hardening rebellion in reform school led to another series of armed robberies. Finally certain of his father’s love as he entered prison to serve three sentences, Sands then desired reform. His father’s death soon after was a setback until he met Warden Clinton T. Duffy, who convinced Sands that he had the...

(The entire section is 462 words.)