In her own words, Cyntoia Brown shares the riveting and redemptive story of how she changed her life for the better while in prison, finding hope through faith after a traumatic adolescence of drug addiction, rape, and sex trafficking led to a murder conviction. Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for a murder she committed at the age of sixteen. Her case became national news when celebrities and activists made the hashtag #FreeCyntoia go viral in 2017. She was granted full clemency after having served fifteen years, walking out a free woman on August 7, 2019.This is her story, in her own words.In these pages, written over the fifteen years she was incarcerated, Cyntoia shares the difficult early life that lead to that fateful night and how she found the strength to not only survive, but thrive, in prison.A coming-of-age memoir set against the shocking backdrop of a life behind bars, Free Cyntoia takes you on a spiritual journey as Cyntoia struggles to overcome a legacy of family addiction and a lifetime of feeling ostracized and abandoned by society.Born to a teenage alcoholic mother who was also a victim of sex trafficking, Brown reflects on the isolation, low self-esteem, and sense of alienation that drove her straight into the hands of a predator.Though she attempts to build a positive path and honor the values her beloved adoptive mother taught her, Cyntoia succumbs to harmful influences that drive her to a cycle of promise and despair. After a fateful meeting with a prison educator turned mentor, Cyntoia makes the pivotal decision to take classes at Lipscomb University and strive for a better future, even if she’s never freed.For the first time ever, Cyntoia shares the details of her transformation, including a profound encounter with God, an unlikely romance, and an unprecedented outpouring of support from social media advocates and A-list celebrities, which ultimately lead to clemency and her release from prison.Giving a rare look at the power of love, forgiveness, and self-discovery in the darkest of places, Free Cyntoia is a deeply personal portrait of one woman’s journey for redemption within a system that had failed her from childhood.
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Free Cyntoia Review
- January 1, 1970CorvusContent Warning: This review, given the person it is about, includes subjects of abuse, sexual assault, drugging, violence, traumas of prison, and other things I may forget to mention. Read with care. When I became aware of Cyntoia Brown-Long's memoir- Free Cyntoia- I was very interested to read more about her journey. I had followed her case through awareness raised by activist groups and news articles, but this book added a large amount of depth and detail to her story that I never knew about. The book is Content Warning: This review, given the person it is about, includes subjects of abuse, sexual assault, drugging, violence, traumas of prison, and other things I may forget to mention. Read with care. When I became aware of Cyntoia Brown-Long's memoir- Free Cyntoia- I was very interested to read more about her journey. I had followed her case through awareness raised by activist groups and news articles, but this book added a large amount of depth and detail to her story that I never knew about. The book is well written by Cyntoia and Bethany Mauger and is accessible in its style to a variety of readers.Something that stuck out the most to me while reading this book is Cyntoia's resilience and capacity for forgiveness. Frankly, I felt, and still feel, downright infuriated about everything she went through. Every time she would get past another hurtle, another person would take her down. She really manages to capture the horrific and defeating nature of the prison system in the USA. She also takes a ton of responsibility for her actions and the actions of others. There were times in this story I found myself saying, "Wow, she still thinks (particular abuse she suffered) is her fault."As I read this book, I realized quickly that I would have to take my time with it, despite wanting to devour it whole. Cyntoia and I have a lot of differences in demographics and privilege, but we share a lot of experiences and thinking patterns in our youth. She described what it was like to think and feel certain ways so well that I had to make sure I put the book down here and there to take care of the feelings it brought up for me. I, and many others, are not at all far away from what happened to Cyntoia. One nudge in another direction and many of us could have found ourselves in her shoes. -The following summary contains some spoilers about Cyntoia's story that are detailed in the book.-Cyntoia's life had a rough start with many ups and downs. She was adopted by two extremely loving Black parents who cared for her when her mother could not. She found herself outcast in many circles for her lighter skin, but still found herself in gifted school programs. Her struggles with the law began when she was placed in juvenile offender and psychiatric schools and institutions for very minor offenses such as petty theft or trespassing in a house with other kids. She was then placed in foster care after refusing to be around her sexually predatory uncle who came to pick her up. Time and again, Cyntoia was punished for trying to keep herself safe or for sticking up for herself.Eventually, Cyntoia was exposed to porn where she learned that sex with strange men is just something normal that you have to do. She internalized this and had her first sexual experience with a stranger- likely an adult man- who preyed upon her while waiting at the bus stop when she was 12 years old. She became a runaway and suffered heinous abuses from adult men she encountered including being drugged and raped multiple times by multiple men. She eventually meets another adult man she came to believe was her boyfriend who abuses her in every way imaginable and forces her into sex trafficking. He started with his friends and slowly forced her to expand who she would be abused by- all adults, while she was in her early to mid teens. He forces her to continue, at times at gunpoint, with promises that they will use the money to run off together some day.Eventually a predator in his 40s picks her up, takes her to his home where she feels threatened especially by all of the guns he keeps showing her, and she takes the gun Kut had given her and shoots him in self defense. When she is eventually arrested, the police lie to her and Kut snitches on her immediately as well as lies about her, placing all of the blame at her feet. At this point in time, Cyntoia still believes she just had a boyfriend. She still had no idea that she was a trafficking victim and that Kut was her exploiter and abuser, not the love of her life.After a horrifying and humiliating trial, an unjust court system referring to her as a "teenage prostitute," a prosecutor out for the blood of a young girl, and an unethical mostly white jury find Cyntoia guilty of everything including first degree murder which carries an automatic life sentence for adults in her state. They tried her as an adult despite her being years underage. In prison, even more injustices and betrayals happen to her including finding out her college law professor was a prosecutor who fought to keep her in prison for life and a guard who preyed upon her and started a sexual relationship with her which only she was punished for. It is not until an activist campaign goes viral after many people see a PBS documentary about her case that things begin moving in her favor. Multiple women help Cyntoia come to realize that she was a victim, not an immoral or bad person. Once Cyntoia became aware of just how insidious those who preyed upon her were, she started a project called GLITTER to mentor young girls and help them escape and avoid trafficking while she was still in prison. Her attempts to raise awareness were often overshadowed when reporters would choose to instead focus on her personal case. Cyntoia held onto this desire to help others and obviously still does today.Cyntoia eventually meets her future husband as a penpal in prison who helps her become a follower of the Christian God. Through the hard work of everyone involved, Cyntoia eventually finds clemency and goes home on probation.-End summary with spoilers about Cyntoia's story-In the beginning of the book, we get a glimpse of Cyntoia's initial court experience in which she prays, "God, if you let me out of here, I'll tell the whole world about you." Cyntoia explains that she did not believe in God because no God would allow her to be in her circumstances and no God ever answered her prayers for help. By the end of the book, she is giving God credit for almost everything.I have to admit, I started to get irritated when the God talk went from mentions of gratitude throughout the story to his presence dominating the entire thing. There were so many people who worked so hard for Cyntoia to help her find clemency, yet she focuses almost solely on God giving her a miracle. I am an atheist, but that doesn't mean I don't see the value religion has in peoples lives and culture. I am glad that Cyntoia found a faith that works for her and has shared her truth through this book. I just have a very hard time seeing a deity be given the credit while the people doing the actual work end up as a paragraph at the end of her acknowledgements. I do not understand how she sees all of her negative experiences were part of some divine plan when she is able to get out. Most people never achieve what Cyntoia has and logic follows that their suffering is also part of God's plan. I can't get behind that. But, it doesn't matter so much what I believe because this is Cyntoia's story and this is what mattered to her. It gives us insight to where she is today.When Cyntoia comes home to the place that her new husband has lovingly stocked with everything she wanted, she does mention that it feels unfair that so many others will not have the same thing. She still attributes it to God's miracle bestowed upon her. Her husband Jaime undoubtedly played a huge part in that, going very heavy handed with the God talk from the moment they began corresponding. I understand how she ended up at the belief system she did.Overall, Cyntoia's memoir is a very interesting read. I believe this book will also clear up a lot of misconceptions people have about her and her case. She is a highly responsible- perhaps too responsible- woman who has become very knowledgeable caring. I hope her book helps people in similar situations get out alive or at least know that they are not alone. This was also posted to my blog.more
- January 1, 1970VictoriaExcellent book!!!Cyntoia Brown-Long gives her account of her life and how she was trafficked for sex but had no idea what she had been put through truly until after she was already sentenced to life in prison after killing a man who sought out to abuse her when she was 16 years old. She had been called a "teen prostitute" instead of a trafficking victim. She tells about her time in prison, how she worked hard to get a degree, found Jesus, found love, and was given freedom! What a captivati Excellent book!!!Cyntoia Brown-Long gives her account of her life and how she was trafficked for sex but had no idea what she had been put through truly until after she was already sentenced to life in prison after killing a man who sought out to abuse her when she was 16 years old. She had been called a "teen prostitute" instead of a trafficking victim. She tells about her time in prison, how she worked hard to get a degree, found Jesus, found love, and was given freedom! What a captivating story and amazing journey! I am glad that her book came out so quickly too after her freedom, so I could learn more about her life. It is crazy to think how many petitions were signed for this to happen, and she totally deserved it!more
- January 1, 1970Natasha WalkerWow! Talk about being pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t too sure on what to expect but this book was surprisingly well written. Sometimes memoirs can jump around a timeline that can be confusing. Not this book! Cyntoia took the reader through her entire journey from childhood to prison release. Recently her story went viral and gained a lot of attention which no doubt helped with her release but I remembered watching her documentary that aired many years and always wondering what ever happened to t Wow! Talk about being pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t too sure on what to expect but this book was surprisingly well written. Sometimes memoirs can jump around a timeline that can be confusing. Not this book! Cyntoia took the reader through her entire journey from childhood to prison release. Recently her story went viral and gained a lot of attention which no doubt helped with her release but I remembered watching her documentary that aired many years and always wondering what ever happened to that little girl. I eagerly picked it up every chance I got because I just wanted to hurry up and get to her happy ending which she rightfully deserved.more
- January 1, 1970Derek LynchI literally cannot believe what Cyntoia Brown went through. I heard about Cyntoia when #FreeCyntoia was trending awhile back but had no idea the trauma this woman went through. This is a fascinating, heartbreaking, painful memoir about injustice & redemption - and the way Cyntoia finds her faith in the face of such remarkable circumstances speaks to her strength and perseverance. I would recommend this book time & time again.more
- January 1, 1970Pam VassAlmost speechless......I am wiping tears, seriously as I type these words. Cynthia's life easily could have been mine ! As I started this book i kept thinking.....this could have been me, this could have been me.....i am certain that this book will affect others in such an impactful manner that it isn't even funny !! College students will read this book for classes they are taking and it WILL be utilized for research regarding human trafficking. Period !more
- January 1, 1970RaycheleI loved this book!! Learning about everything she went though in her own words was extremely powerful. The audio book was narrated by her sho to hear the pain in her voice when reliving this trauma brought me to tears. Cyntoia is an amazingly strong woman who I believe will do great things for these young women living in prison!more
- January 1, 1970DiannaGreat story I’m giving this five stars because of her story, and her tenacity. The writing was good, but the feeling of being in prison through her eyes really made it worth reading.
- January 1, 1970Tamesha ❤️Wow!!!!!Impressive!!!Heart-wrenching!!!Relatable!!!Cyntoia’s strength is inspiringgggg ... actually listening to her tell her side of the story as well as experiencing her time incarcerated took my breath away!!! Read it!!!!Read it!!!!Read it!!!!
- January 1, 1970Chevonne ThomasIncredibleThis book will strengthen your faith, restore your faith or start having faith in God! A story that could have a million endings, but the actual ending reminds you that God is good all the time.
- January 1, 1970JaniceInspiring readI saw Cyntoia on the Today show and was moved to read her story. I hope her life continues to be of help and inspiration to others. Her life has not been easy but she has fought to make it valuable in her own eyes as well as others.
- January 1, 1970Liza MacomberI first saw Cyntoia on the CBS morning show with her “note to self” I cried when I heard her words and immediately bought her book. A reality check and a gripping story of this young woman’s life , thank you Cyntoia for sharing your story .
- January 1, 1970StephenWell done story and hope the movie is in the works starring the actress from the hate u give. We must agree that people can change or else the prison system is just a waste. Teach about a Divine power that is working in this world and forget the ego. Glad she's living during my time.more
- January 1, 1970Brittney BanksSo glad Cyntoia is getting the second chance that many people deserve. Hopefully she is able to use her platform to help with meaningful prison reform.
- January 1, 1970DianeFirstLadyFMDAwesome Awesome book great read and well put together Free Cyntoia Brown-Long God is real. I’m glad she got a second chance
- January 1, 1970Maya BI really enjoyed this book. It was very fast paced and I felt like I knew Cyntoia when I was done reading. She spoke her truth from beginning to end. I hope she continues to write.
- January 1, 1970Doris RainesGOOD BOOK.
- January 1, 1970BarbaraThis is an excellent book and must be shared by readers especially young readers. Highly recomended.
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