Exploring the Journey Home: Lauren Kessler’s Insightful Talk on ‘Free’

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Jordan Monaco

On May 9, 2024, at 2:00 pm, the BMCC Library was graced by the presence of Lauren Kessler, an accomplished author whose work delves into the intricate tapestry of human experiences. Her presentation centered around her critically acclaimed book, “Free: Two Years, Six Lives, and the Long Journey Home,” a poignant exploration of re-entry challenges faced by those formerly incarcerated. The event, a part of the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour, not only highlighted Kessler’s literary prowess but also shed light on crucial societal issues.

Kessler’s book, which earned her the prestigious 2023 Oregon Book Award, delves into the lives of six individuals navigating the complexities of re-entry into society post-incarceration. Through meticulous research and empathetic storytelling, she unravels the myriad challenges, triumphs, and setbacks encountered by these individuals, offering readers a profound glimpse into their world.

During her presentation at BMCC, Kessler captivated the audience with her insightful commentary on the themes explored in “Free.” She discussed the stigma and barriers faced by formerly incarcerated individuals, emphasizing the importance of compassion, understanding, and support in their journey toward reintegration. Kessler’s nuanced approach humanized the experiences often overlooked or misunderstood by society, sparking meaningful conversations and reflections among attendees.

One of the highlights of the event was Kessler’s ability to weave personal narratives with broader social issues, creating a narrative that resonated on both an emotional and intellectual level. Her engaging storytelling style, coupled with her in-depth knowledge of the subject matter, left a lasting impact on the audience, prompting introspection and a deeper appreciation for the complexities of re-entry.

As attendees immersed themselves in Kessler’s words, they were encouraged to confront preconceived notions, challenge stereotypes, and advocate for a more inclusive and supportive society for those rebuilding their lives post-incarceration. The event served as a catalyst for dialogue, empathy, and action, reinforcing the transformative power of literature in fostering understanding and empathy.

For those eager to delve deeper into Kessler’s work and the themes explored in “Free,” her website ( offers a wealth of resources, including insights, interviews, and additional reading materials. It serves as a testament to Kessler’s ongoing commitment to raising awareness, sparking conversations, and advocating for positive change.

In conclusion, Lauren Kessler’s presentation at the BMCC Library was not just an author talk; it was a thought-provoking journey into the complexities of re-entry, human resilience, and the transformative power of storytelling. Her book, “Free,” continues to inspire readers to look beyond stereotypes, embrace empathy, and champion inclusivity, making a profound impact on both literary and societal landscapes.

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