In her memoir, Lara Love Hardin puts a human face on painfully personal crimes—like the 32 counts of identity theft she commits against her community in order to fund her drug addiction. The Many Lives of Mama Love grips you as suddenly as any psychological thriller, leaving you breathless as Love Hardin evades the consequences of her crimes until, eventually, there’s nowhere left to run. During her yearlong incarceration, the women Love Hardin meets in cell block G are vastly different from her—a former upper-class soccer mom with a successful business—yet she finds similarities and common ground with her fellow inmates in her struggle with sobriety. The title itself is perfectly apt, encompassing Love Hardin’s status as a devoted mother who fights to remain in her children’s lives as well as the way she provided stability and understanding to younger inmates, who nicknamed her ”Mama Love.”
With its behind-the-scenes look into incarceration, The Many Lives of Mama Love provides a largely unknown perspective that is absolutely crucial to understanding our country’s prison system. As she relates her grueling firsthand experiences behind bars, Love Hardin folds in commentary on prison reform that is compelling, persuasive and timely. Her journey through the most tumultuous years of her life—from her harrowing time locked away to her release; from the desperate attempts to maintain her freedom and parental rights to her rise as one of the most successful ghostwriters on the literary scene—is the embodiment of endurance and fortitude. The vulnerability and authenticity of her story is only rivaled by her portrayal of the hard-fought self-awareness that comes from finally facing oneself. Readers will experience the lows and highs of addiction, incarceration and rehabilitation as Love Hardin assembles the pieces of her shattered life into something beautiful again in this gritty and inspiring chronicle.