Thursday, December 22, 2011

REVIEW and GIVEAWAY: Say Not What If by Andrew Friedman


"Say Not What If" is a nearly 10,000 word story written as a long rhyming poem. I have never seen a story written in this format. It has characters and dialogue just like a regular story, and is extremely easy to read and understand, regardless of whether you have a GED or a PHD. You can read it in about an hour, so it doesn't require a lot of time.

“Say Not What If” is about a man on death row, and has as its theme the concept that time is our most valuable commodity. As someone once said, “waste anything but time, because we really are promised no tomorrows.” This theme is explored through the life of a man who sacrifices his marriage and everything else for his career. He realizes much too late the terrible consequences of this decision, and then desperately tries to regain those lost years by making a much worse choice. The resolution of this latter choice involves an additional examination of the concepts of accountability and responsibility, redemption, and the morality of the death penalty.
  • Paperback, 52 pages
  • Published July 11th 2011 by CreateSpace
  • ISBN 1463627319
About the Author
Author Andrew Friendman is an attorney, although he has no experience with the death penalty. He has written an essay as a follow-up to Say Not What If, intended to "provide some background information on the current state of this critically important issue."

My Thoughts
Say not "what if" or wonder why
About all the things you did not try.
Say not "what if" or be heard to sigh
With a trembling voice and a tear in your eye
"Why did I let time go by?"
Say Not What If is a poetic novel from the perspective of a man on death row looking back over his life.

This issue is very personal to me, since I have a friend on death row. My best friend for a time in my late teens (we even talked about getting a place together after I graduated high school), we fell apart after he married at about 19 years of age. Things went downhill for him over the next decade, and the next that I heard of him, he was being sought after for a triple homicide that occurred during a robbery. After going on the run, he was finally apprehended on the other side of the country, along with his accomplice.

During the investigation, evidence was found to connect him to the crime scene, but no definitive proof was ever discovered that could point at him as the killer (or the sole killer). There were two people perpetrating the crime, both pointing their finger at the other as the killer, and no proof of which one did it, or whether both were involved.

So one is offered a deal to turn on the other, in exchange for life in prison and no death penalty. The other (my friend) is found guilty and condemned to death. But did he do it? Or was it his accomplice? And if his accomplice and he were both involved, shouldn't they both get the same sentence?

So now I am counting the days, waiting for word that his time is up. I read years ago that the average stay of a death row inmate in Florida is 15 years. My friend has been on death row now for...13 years, I think? Something like that. I got to see him last summer, after testifying on his behalf at an appeals hearing. The judge was kind enough to allow us to meet and talk for about 15 minutes after court had adjourned, amazing the counsel, as it was very unusual for a judge to grant such a concession.

So this story kind of hit home for me, and I really understand on a personal level the inconsistencies in sentencing, the preferential treatment given to some and not others, the risks of executing an innocent person, at least "innocent" in regards to what they are being sentenced death for-- killing another human being-- if not innocent of other crimes.

This was an interesting way to relay an idea-- as an almost 10,000 word poem. Well-written and engaging the mind, it gets you thinking and asking yourself questions on the subject of the death penalty, however not as much as I would hope. The villain is very "villainous", not eliciting too much sympathy. There is no question that he committed his crime, and it was a truly heinous crime involving a small child. Many who read his story will feel he got exactly what he deserved.

Some of the biggest debates of the death penalty are those over the "unfairness" of it all-- the fact that poor black men are more likely to be sentenced to death than affluent white. The most frightening debate is over whether it should be allowed if there is any chance of an innocent being executed. This story won't really incite too many of those types of conversations.

At only 52 pages long, it is a pretty quick read. I'd recommend this to anyone interested in the death penalty debate. In fact, I am giving away my copy of Say Not What If to another reader to experience and review.

Rules (you knew there had to be some):
  • You must be 18 years or older
  • Open to US and Canada residents only
  • To enter, just comment below. Be sure to leave your email address in your comment, or have it visible in your profile.
  • Be a book reviewer that will review this book on your own blog and/or on sites like GoodReads, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Deadline is January 14, 2012

Please note that this book is being shipped by me, and will be shipped without insurance or tracking. Therefore I am at the mercy of the post office. So far no book that I've shipped has been lost by them, but I can make no guarantees!

Thanks to the author Andrew Friedman for giving me the opportunity to read his story.

My Rating: 8 out of 10 


I received a copy of this book to review from the author, in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel.


ann said...

this would be interesting to read to get a different view on the subject
amhengst at verizon dot net

Julie @ Knitting and Sundries said...

I am so sorry to hear about your friend - it just seems that both involved should receive the same punishment without concrete evidence that one or the other was fully responsible.

I have mixed feelings on the death penalty. I truly feel that people who commit horrendous crimes deserve to die, but is it our right as a society to determine which crimes merit the ultimate punishment? I was also involved in case when I worked as an office manager at a law firm where one man spent over 20 years in prison for a murder that occurred during a robbery. The only eyewitness said that the perpetrator "looked like" our guy, but what was overlooked was when he said, "it wasn't him, just someone that looked like him." Hard to believe that this man lost 20 years of his life based on that statement, but true.

How many other people are in prison and/or death row due to similar circumstances?

Anyway, off my rant ... Reading about this in verse sounds like a unique perspective. Thanks for the chance to win!