The Prison Lady: True Stories and Life Lessons from Both Sides of the Bars by Phyllis Taylor

The Prison Lady by Phyllis Taylor is quite the memoir. After being ‘let go’ (fired!) from her monetarily successful and respected position “teaching technology at a high-profile international law firm”, Phyllis Taylor was on the street. Here is a woman with much knowledge and experience left to her own devices as to what to do next. Then Taylor’s life changes in an instant: A friend drags her to a Toronto appearance of Oprah Winfrey’s Lifeclass, with the focus being on gratitude. The inspiring collection of speakers on the billboard featured six incarcerated women appearing through Skype from the Indiana Women’s Prison. These women described their life in prison and the fears of returning to live on the “outside” with very little, if none, of the guidelines needed to make a successful transition. In other words, how NOT to end up back in the prison system. Phyllis Taylor slapped her knee in this “Ah ha” moment and knew she was headed to prison.

As I followed Taylor through her detailed, documented, and highly readable injection into the prison system, I learned a great deal. These chapters describe the challenges of her getting into the local prison where the two slots she could fit into were either yoga or AA. Starting with that “in” as a volunteer, she was asked to begin with Anger Management. This is the beginning of what blossoms into an incredible career to “educate the weary, teach the illiterate and stop the bleeding.”

The Prison Lady brings us into the lives of the inmates, male and female, for no other segregation is present in the prison system. I was not happy to meet all the people that Taylor introduced me to, but I felt her dedication and heartfelt diligence in every chapter of this book. This is truly a book about balance, giving and forgiving, and, yes, gratitude. Taylor captured the essence of all of these in a flow that kept me interested at every valuable turn. Readers receive an inside look at the prison system, those who are on the inside, those waiting to return to live on the outside, and into Phyllis Taylor, herself. There are many revelations about her personal and inward journey of acceptance and forgiveness, alongside those she meets, greets, and treats along the way in her incredible and outstanding career.

“If childhood has had an adverse effect upon you, perhaps as a result of bullying or other traumatic experiences, your self-worth may rise and fall according to what other people think. You may find yourself looking for external affirmations rather than looking within. If you feel that way, you’re not alone. But we will challenge this mindset and find new ways of moving forward in these chapters.
Hurt people holler, but we can learn to holler in a positive way. Don’t look for reasons to take yourself out of the game. Look for reasons to stay – and to thrive. Respect yourself. Applaud yourself. And then celebrate your differences.
You deserve to love yourself wholeheartedly. And enjoy a life of passion.”

Things don’t always go smoothly for Taylor, but she tells her story with a fierce honesty that resonates with her smooth style of writing. This book will not let its reader go until the very end when I too felt released from some of the old thoughts I was harbouring about prison life, inmates, and much more. I found this book to be uplifting, informative, at times humorous, and at all times highly readable. This author is a dynamic real-life person that offers a literary memoir well worth seeking out. My heart was indeed touched by The Prison Lady: True Stories and Life Lessons from Both Sides of the Bars by Phyllis Taylor.

Phyllis Taylor is a Certified Life and Mediation Coach with the Ministry of Ontario, for the past 10 years. Phyllis’ passion is to show love and respect to marginalized people, while guiding them on their healing journey.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sutherland House Books (Nov. 22 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 268 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1989555977
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1989555972

Managing Editor

TMR’s Managing Editor Carrie Stanton has a BA in Political Science from the University of Calgary. She is the author of The Jewel and Beast Bot, and picture books, Emmie and the Fierce Dragon and The Gardener. Carrie loves to write stories that grow wings and transport readers everywhere.  She reads and enjoys stories from every genre.