June 17, 2019

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That Bird Has My Wings - What People Have to Say About the Book

"In poignant prose, That Bird Has My Wings shows first-hand how children trapped in poverty don’t have many choices. Born into an environment of crime, raised in a broken system of foster care and juvenile halls, Jarvis Jay Masters was set on a dangerous course which eventually brought him to San Quentin’s death row. Somehow, within those walls, he has shown remorse and demonstrates the divine grace he has received by the courageous way he now lives his daily life, by the kind acts he performs, and by the cautionary tale he shares within these pages. This amazing, wise man deserves our ear, and our support."

—Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking

"One cannot be neutral in situations of injustice, and in his memoir, That Bird Has My Wings, Jarvis Jay Masters exposes the complex problems of a system that has resulted in a disproportionate number of blacks in the U.S. prison system. In the history of South Africa, we are not unfamiliar with this phenomenon. Forthright about his own failings as well, Masters’ truth has brought him reconciliation with the divine and with his best self. His memoir is a plea for reform, for a common humanity, and I share his hope that this moving story will redouble our efforts to make sure that every child matters."

— Desmond Tutu

"That Bird Has My Wings is a real-life The Wire--heartbreaking and harrowing, impossible to put down. Masters writes his journey from unthinkable violence to grace with honesty, poetry, and revelation. This book would be a miraculous accomplishment for any writer, even if it had not been written from inside San Quentin Prison. It captivates, instructs, and inspires as Masters chronicles his hellish childhood, accepts responsibility for the injuries he caused, and shows how enlightenment can occur even in a place as grim as death row. Masters writes, “that bird has my wings,” but as this brave book attests, he has found his wings."

— David Sheff, author of Beautiful Boy

"African Americans are seven times more likely to go to jail than whites; youth of color represent two-thirds of our country’s juvenile inmates. Jarvis Jay Masters’ moving memoir provides an intimate portrait of this tragic inequality. It testifies to the need for better education, greater training, and increased opportunity to keep these forgotten youth from ending up in our nation’s juvenile centers and prisons. Read this book!"

— Van Jones, founder , The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights & Green for All, and author of Green Collar Economy

"All across America, boys are lost to trauma and deprivation. Few of them have given voice to their experience and the redemptive power of spirituality as has Jarvis Jay Masters. When faced with life in prison, each person must choose between living as a savage or as a monk. The choice Jarvis made speaks volumes about the human spirit."

— James Garbarino, Ph.D., author of Lost Boys: Why Our Sons turn Violent and What We Can Do About It

"Brave, heartbreaking, redemptive and wise. Jarvis Jay Masters has turned his life into remarkable good medicine."

— Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart

"The book of Ecclesiastes tells us there is “a time to every purpose under the heavens….” If so, Jarvis Jay Masters’ purpose is clearly to survive and teach. His ability to emerge alive from a childhood of horror, depravity, degradation and debasement beggars the imagination. His ability to cling to a faint glimmer of hope even as torture is rained on his formative years is the stuff of heroes. His ability to recognize, subdue and transform the self-destructive drive such life-denying forces promote is a lesson for us all. His time is now. His book is a testament to the human spirit."

— Mike Farrell, chair of Death Penalty Focus, is the author of "Just Call Me Mike: a Journey to Actor and Activist" and "Of Mule and Man".