foreword by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Nobel Peace Prize Laureate


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From the back

Myriad works discuss forgiveness, but few address it in the prison context. For most people, prisoners exist “out of sight and out of mind.” Their stories are often reduced to a few short lines in news articles at the time of arrest or conviction.

But what happened before in the lives of the convicted? What has happened after? How have people in prison dealt with the harm they have caused and the harm they have suffered? What does forgiveness mean to them? What can we outsiders learn about the nature of forgiveness and prison from individuals who have both dealt and endured some of life’s most painful experiences?

Expanding on his MPhil dissertation Echoes from Exile (with Distinction) from Trinity College Dublin, Michael McRay’s important new book brings the perspectives and stories of fourteen Tennessee prisoners into public awareness. Weaving these narratives into a survey of forgiveness literature, McRay offers a map of the forgiveness topography. At once storytelling, academic, activism, and cartography, McRay’s book is as necessary as it is accessible.

There is a whole demographic we have essentially ignored when it comes to conversations on forgiveness. What would we learn if we listened?


“[Where the River Bends] is important … We cannot encounter these pages and remain unaffected. But what will happen to us if we listen to those we tend to ignore? This book is one way to find out. I encourage us all to listen.”
— Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, from the foreword


“We can theorize about what forgiveness really means, or we can talk and listen to those we have viewed as unforgivable. Where the River Bends does both, and thus offers depth of insight and perspective that is rare yet essential if we are going to move to higher ground.”
— Michelle Alexander, author of the bestselling The New Jim Crow


“Here is a book pregnant with the hope that comes through the power of forgiveness. Don’t just read this book–let it move you to become an agent of mercy in a merciless world.”
— Shane Claiborne, activist, abolitionist, and author of Executing Grace and the bestselling The Irresistible Revolution


 “Michael McRay has written an extraordinary book … [It] could actually change your life.”
— Everett L. Worthington, Jr., author of Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past


 “This book stands tall among the tomes on forgiveness … Caution: reading these heart-wrenching stories may change your life.”
— Donald B. Kraybill, co-author Amish Grace