Breakfast at Bronzefield - Sophie Campbell

Reading Challenge Category: Free ARC from NetGalley

Official Blurb:

HMP Bronzefield, the UK’s largest women’s prison: notorious for bent screws and drugs:
But what’s the truth behind the headlines?
Forced into signing an NDA when she arrived there on remand, former public schoolgirl Sophie risked extra time on her sentence by documenting her experiences of life inside.
Backed up by recent research and statistics, Breakfast at Bronzefield offers a powerful glimpse into a world few see: riots; unethical medical prescribing; and prison barons – key figures behind prostitution and drug-smuggling.
In a world where anything goes and being rehabilitated simply means saying ‘sorry’ right up until you’re released, how will Sophie cope on the outside, where she is expected to play by different rules? Will she succeed in creating the life she wants? Or, like most prisoners, will she end up back where she started?

My Thoughts:

So, I’d enjoyed reading ‘Orange Is the New Black’ a few months ago so when the author contacted me and asked if I wanted to read her account of the UK prison system I jumped at the chance.
I feel complete anxiety and terror at reading these books as the thought of ever being in prison has me breaking out in a cold sweat. However, at the same time, they are somewhat addictive to read. They are a cold bucket of water to remind us to stay on the straight and narrow so that we never have to endure what so many of these women have had to.
The tale the author was telling us about how badly the prisons are run was very well told and informed. It is truly horrifying that illegal things can happen and nothing can be done about it once a woman is incarcerated. Additionally, we all assume that prisoners are being given a chance to be rehabilitated, but with the lack of resources, it seems that they are thrown back on the street after their time is served without any help to stop them from reoffending. Often with nowhere to live. This side of the book was very well written as it certainly got the story across.
Even though I could see what the author was trying to achieve with this book, I’m not sure she did herself any favours with the way she acted. She did not come across as very likeable or relatable in any way, and it did mar the purpose of the book somewhat.
Firstly, we don’t really find out the full story of what got her into prison in the first place. This made it hard to form real opinions of the character, and we only had her attitude whilst in prison to depend upon. Secondly, she seemed a little high and mighty, and I had to keep reminding myself that she was in there for a reason. She acted superior to the situation as if she didn’t belong there. However, as far as I determined from what we were told, she hadn’t been falsely accused; she wasn’t just researching for a book. She had broken the law and had been sent to prison. The way she acted with her behaviour made it hard to sympathise with her. I think this attitude and her reactions to situations were a detriment to the point she was trying to get across regarding the prison system as a whole. She also appeared to be entitled in some way, as if the prison owed her. She was very negative towards the people that were there to help her as she left, and they were portrayed as merely useless. However, it appeared as if they were bound by red tape or by the limitations on offer to them. There was nothing else they could do; however, the author acted as if she was owed a lot even though she’d been in prison for doing something wrong. It wasn’t a hotel she’d paid to stay in and had a bad experience. It was a prison and not meant to be nice. The thought of prison is supposed to be a deterrent to commit a crime.
This book certainly acts as a warning, and even though there were a lot of similarities between what I’d read in ‘Orange Is the New Black’ I think the author’s behaviour sets this apart.
Unfortunately, it was a shame that it was overpowered by the antics and reproachable behaviour of the author.

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Breakfast at Bronzefield
by Sophie Campbell
Date Started
5th June 2020
Date Finished
11th June 2020
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