Study Guide

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison Family

By Shaka Senghor


Family is a super important theme in Writing My Wrongs, with a lot of layers to it.

On the one hand, Shaka's family is a solid presence in his life, and his dad is an amazing role model who is always there for Shaka no matter what, even through all the years of prison and into the good things that come after. Shaka's siblings also seem to be important people in his life and to care about him.

On the other hand, his parents' divorce contributes to a lot of Shaka's early troubles and long-term trauma, so there are some tough things associated with family in the book too. Maybe the toughest is the way Shaka's mother mistreats him and at least partially rejects him. It takes Shaka a long time to be able to forgive those things, which are contributing factors to why he winds up on the streets.

On a more positive note, being a parent himself is one of the key things that motivates Shaka to turn his life around and grow into the man he wants to be. So family is really important in this book, and it's clear that a family member's failure to care for someone can be disastrous, while the love of a family member can really transform things for the better.

Questions About Family

  1. What does the book as a whole suggest about the role family has to play in shaping a person's life?
  2. What are some things Shaka's dad does to show care for Shaka? How do they affect Shaka in the long run?
  3. What does Shaka learn about being a son from having children himself?
  4. By the time Shaka starts a family with Ebony, what has he learned about being a good parent? How has he learned it?

Chew on This

Shaka becomes a better son by being a parent himself.

Shaka might not have found the strength to turn his life around without the letters his son sent him.

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