Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

One woman's remarkable odyssey from tragedy to prison to recovery - and recognition as a leading figure in the national justice reform movement. 

Susan Burton's world changed in an instant when her five-year-old son was killed by a van driving down their street. Consumed by grief and without access to professional help, Susan self-medicated, becoming addicted first to cocaine then to crack. As a resident of South Los Angeles, a Black community under siege in the War on Drugs, it was but a matter of time before Susan was arrested. She cycled in and out of prison for over 15 years; never was she offered therapy or treatment for addiction. On her own, she eventually found a private drug rehabilitation facility. 

Once clean, Susan dedicated her life to supporting women facing similar struggles. Her organization, A New Way of Life, operates five safe homes in Los Angeles that supply a lifeline to hundreds of formerly incarcerated women and their children - setting them on the track to education and employment rather than returning to prison. Becoming Ms. Burton not only humanizes the deleterious impact of mass incarceration, it also points the way to the kind of structural and policy changes that will offer formerly incarcerated people the possibility of lives of meaning and dignity. 

©2017 Susan Burton and Cari Lynn (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Becoming Ms. Burton

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    4
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

State-Enabled Racism, and How to Survive It

It reads as though the US government and Californian state legislatures had devised a system that placed the black population in a nightmarish criminal justice pan-opticon. This is a story of a modern railway underground that transported hundreds of black women to freedom from a corrupted and corrupting criminal justice industrial complex and the social straightjacket of a deeply racist system.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jean
  • Jean
  • 18-06-17

Compelling

This is the story of Burton’s life. The co-author is journalist and writer Cari Lynn. The first part of the book is about Burton’s early years in which she suffered from emotional neglect and sexual abuse. After Burton’s five-year-old son was killed by an automobile, she became a drug addict. This began years of being in and out of prison.

The second half of the book reveals her path to recovery. She formed a nonprofit organization entitled “A New Way of Life Reentry Project”. This organization helps other women stay out of prison and re-enter society. Burton has won many awards for her work and the Los Angeles Times named her one of the Nation’s New Civil Rights Leaders. She advocated for a more humane justice system guided by compassion and dignity.

The book is well written and easy to read. Along with her life story, Burton also examines a number of issues in a broader context such as: How the lack of employment and housing opportunities increase the odds of a person returning to prison. She writes about ways to change these societal issues. Burton also provides statistics to reveal a fuller perspective of the problems of the prison system. Ms. Burton’s book not only inspires but educates.

The book is ten and a half hours long. Janina Edwards does a good job narrating the book. Edwards is a voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Betty
  • Betty
  • 15-06-17

Great!

Extremely eye-opening book that describes the struggles that so many millions of Americans face, which we rarely hear about. Inspiring, with the message that each person can make a difference. And hardships and struggles can be turned into an asset!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kathleen Keleher
  • Kathleen Keleher
  • 30-05-17

so full of information.

this book brought me to tears of sadness and joy. I knew I would love it and I did

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Sye Hollingsworth
  • Sye Hollingsworth
  • 18-11-19

The Necessary Reform of US Prisions

Thank you Ms. Burton for shining a light on the revolving door of the prison and criminal judicial systems, both designed to segregate the poorest of our population by locking them up and throwing away the key.

Ms. Burton was able to turn her situation around, and use it to become an instrument of much needed change. She was able to mobilize the communities most impacted & inspired others to assist in amazing ways.

Everyone should read or listen to “Becoming Ms Burton” this books lifts the veil of ignorance surrounding the unfair, harsh and unequal criminal justice system. And the sometimes unavoidable circumstances like addiction that can land in the system instead of treatment.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for KathrynVB
  • KathrynVB
  • 01-05-21

An inspiring story of personal redemption

I am a retired attorney who helps people expunge and seal their criminal records in northern Illinois. I started this book out of curiosity about what similar trends are in California. This is more than that. It's a clearheaded description and indictment of our criminal justice system for Black people, especially of the devastation caused by the Nixon-era War on Drugs. Susan Burton weaves her story with those of others, and demonstrates by her own life how sadly the system fails women. We can see in this amazing book how poverty leads girls into sexual predation, failed education, drugs and alcoholism, and prison.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lisabro
  • Lisabro
  • 11-04-21

Extraordinary

Extraordinary. Susan Burton is an extraordinary woman. What a life she has lived and I am so grateful she has so poignantly shared it here with us.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for mamamijo
  • mamamijo
  • 11-11-20

Be educated and inspired

Listening to this book is like sitting at the knee of a very wise woman who recounts to you an unfathomable childhood and adolescence marred with pain, trauma, and deception yet somehow emerges as a powerful leader. I learned so much about our incarceration system and why it is so important to dismantle it while also attending to all of the injustices that bring people to it. Be prepared for your heart to both break and then be inspired.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for CMa
  • CMa
  • 09-11-20

Thank you Ms. Burton

Thank you Ms. Burton for sharing your story! Your story brings to life things that we hear about and brought to life other facts that were new to me about the lives and road blocks faced by people who have been incarcerated. Things they continue to face when they are working to get back to living life after their release. Impactful story and information that shows there is still work to be done in our criminal justice systems and hiring practices throughout our country.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Lari Howard
  • Lari Howard
  • 08-10-20

Inspiring

Susan Burton’s memoir is a must read for anyone needing some inspiration. She shares her life & journey while shining a bright light clearly on the US legal & prison systems are frayed with injustice, especially for people of color. Ms. Burton did not allow her 6 trips to prison, the death of her young son hit by a car driven by police officer or the many obstacles she encountered upon release, prevent her from becoming an advocate!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Claudia Borke
  • Claudia Borke
  • 23-04-20

An eye opener.

This book should be on everybody's reading list. A detailed and well researched documentary that will make you think about our prison sytem.