Book Review: Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption, by Brenda Spahn & Irene Zutell


Hello, savvy savers! Today I wanted to share with you a book review for a novel I just finished reading, Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption, by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell.

Imagine growing up comfortable enough not to starve, but poor enough to feel the anguish and shame of knowing you are from the wrong side of the tracks. Picture the cruelty of knowing that the only way you could indicatively feel loved and appreciated, was to pledge a vow of wealth, to push yourself to strive to lead a successful life, so that if your family and so-called friends did not love you, the world would one day care for you, if even for your money alone. These are the humble beginnings of Brenda Spahn. This book is a true life accounting of a woman, whose inner-child narrated a story of rags to riches, nearly letting your riches become rags, and using those rags to invoke a life-changing event, so powerful that the only way her story would be believable, was by the written word.

Her’s is the story of whirlwind life, her drive to overcome personal hopelessness, to becoming a successful wife, mother, entrepreneur, and eventual voice for the downtrodden, abused, and listfully oppressed women of the Alabama Judicial System. In the book, Spahn is portrayed as an unlikely, and at first, unwilling hero. When her tax preparation business came under scrutiny for alleged improprieties, Spahn and her daughter, facing the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence, found redemption from further prosecution, by way of community service. Through this experience, Spahn realized her life’s work, outreach ministry to the same imprisoned women, she and her daughter, narrowly escaped being.

Spahn’s story, and the overall tone of the book, drastically changes as she willingly gave up all her wealth and prestige to aid the lost, helpless, and broken women described in this book, as a means of personal redemption in light of past self-inflicted legal transgressions, but finds herself invoked by a calling believably beyond her own understanding. This book also explains the humble beginnings of Spahn’s Loveladies Outreach home and facility. How her desire to bring forth change to a few select women’s correctional inmates, brought forth a message of personal growth and understanding, in terms of institutional changes that needed to lobbied against, on behalf of the women whom Spahn aided, her Loveladies.

This book is also about demons. The demons of addiction, abuse of the grandest kind, self-loathing,  and the systematic hopelessness of the women behind bars. Spahn, believing her personal relationship with her creator, will be all she will need to aid her out of the conundrums and obstacles that face her, her Loveladies, and the way she is viewed in her community. Spahn is nothing short of an non-profit daredevil, and she even jokingly admits to breaking into a prison, to bring to light the ails of certain women being ignored by a parole board.

A word to describe Spahn’s efforts, gumption. Miss Brenda and the Loveladies is the story of how this transformation came into place. Despite limited community, family, parole board approval, and at times from the Loveladies themselves, Spahn persevered. If the story had been about her personal discovery and beginning of her 501-C-3 organization, this would be a compelling story, for Spahn this was not enough, she would not stop until she was able to spread her message as far and wide as she could; she now runs the largest transitional center for women in the country by way of her “whole-way” house rehabilitation program. Her story is eye-opening, infuriating, saddening, and uplifting all at the same time.

The message of this book is above par, and worth reading. However, style-wise, I felt a continually changing narrative throughout the text as somewhat cluttered, a distraction, and somewhat forced the middle of the book to lag. But again, this is a gritty urban tale which neither seems to fit the mold of any other book I have ever read. Readers should also note, the text does include colorful language, adult dialogue, and behavior that is not child-appropriate due to the nature and reality of the narrative.

Spahn’s book, helps foster the idea that there is a loving, charming, child like selflessness of inside those whom many would regard as the deluge of society. Her story held my interest in a wide-eyed, ready to sign petitions, and march the square manner of thinking. Her story, their stories, force the reader to delve deeper into their own empathetic selves and realize, that if not for the socioeconomic, educational, or regional differences we share with the women in this book, you yourself could have been one of the Loveladies.

For a book designed for uplifting the ideas of those in either the ministry or in the grassroots movement-sector, I feel this book could be read, understood, and memorialized by anyone. This book gives the reader something more than an uplifting story, it gives the reader something to eternally believe in, humanity.
I highly recommend this book.

In compliance with FTC regulation, I hereby disclaim that I received a free copy of the book from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers, via the Blogging for Books Program in exchange for my review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions of this book, its author, and publisher, are that of my own.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Miss Brenda and the Loveladies: A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption, by Brenda Spahn & Irene Zutell

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