I'm going to begin this on a more personal note than I normally do. I received this biography as an advance reader's copy, and I knew it was from a Christian publisher. Now, I grew up in a Christian household, I went to church every Sunday and from 8th grade to graduation I attended a tiny, private Christian school. I am tolerant, but sick to death of Christian testimony. Needless to say I was not thrilled about this book and I am now embarrassed to admit that.
The plot (if that is the right word) is fairly straight forward. Ken throws the reader in the deep end by starting with the bank robbery where it all went wrong, and then goes back to the beginning. The reader is taken at whirlwind pace through Ken's childhood, his first brushes with "joy juice", continued heartbreak that fed into his need for something more, the horrors of our prison system, and finally his discovery of God and his surrender to His will.
Ken Cooper's writing is no doubt engaging, the biography took me a day and a half to read, and though I was completely engaged, it wasn't until I came upon the story of Mr. Magoo that I found myself weeping on the couch where I read, that I realized this was so much more than an ex-convict's moment on a soap box. In those short 36 hours Ken had become a piece of myself. He won my heart through his honesty, and unapologetic love of Christ and I finished the book feeling like I was capable of anything with God behind me. Just as Ken felt a peace settling over his life, I felt a peace reading his words.
I'm unsure of how fair it is to rate a biography as you are not judging someone's story, but who they are and the life they have had, but Ken Cooper deserves five stars for all the above, despite the events that brought him to that fifth star. On the off chance that you ever see this Ken, I wish you all the best and at least for me, you will be "remembered for what you have written, not for what you have done".