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About The Book

This evocative and gripping investigative look into romantic relationships between incarcerated people and their spouses on the outside “is impossible to put down” (The Globe and Mail, Toronto).

What is it like to fall in love with someone in prison?

Over the course of five years, Elizabeth Greenwood followed the ups and downs of five couples who met during incarceration. In Love in the Time of Incarceration, she pulls back the curtain on the lives of the husbands and wives supporting some of the 2.3 million people in prisons around the United States. In the vein of Modern Love, this book shines a light on how these relationships reflect the desire and delusion we all experience in our romantic pairings.

Love in the Time of Incarceration infiltrates spaces many of us have only heard whispers of—from conjugal visits to prison weddings to relationships between the incarcerated themselves. “A tour de force of empathetic nonfiction storytelling” (Vanessa Grigoriadis, author of Blurred Lines), Love in the Time of Incarceration changes the way you look at the American prison system and perhaps relationships in general.

Previously published as Love Lockdown.

About The Author

Photograph by Ty Cole

Elizabeth Greenwood is the author of Playing Dead: A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesVICE, O, the Oprah Magazine, LongreadsGQ, and others. 

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (July 13, 2021)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501158438

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Raves and Reviews

“Moving seamlessly between the intimate and the institutional, [Greenwood] remains alert to the injustices of the system while capturing the romance of her subjects' stories.”
The New Yorker

“An empathetic and well-characterized book that will add complexity to debates about mass incarceration.”
Kirkus Reviews

“A piercing look at love and marriage when a partner is behind bars.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“An extraordinary look at a common but unexamined phenomenon in American culture.”

“Prison love, Greenwood’s complex and thoughtful investigative journalism reveals, is equal in a very real sense—both sides are intent upon delivering what the other needs. While burdened by a thousand obstacles, bureaucracies, and the very real physical separation of walls, barbed wire and armed guards, they never quite lose their focus on each other. It is somewhat beguiling, this possibility of deep connection, which requires time and paper and a sort of intentionality that the free world takes for granted. It is ironic, too, that it is the kept apart, the imprisoned, who would reveal the necessity of it.”
The Baffler

“Journalist Greenwood (Playing Dead) paints a colorful portrait of the world of MWIs… Enriched by the author’s curiosity and empathy, and shot through with memorable details (Jo and Benny ‘toast[ed] each other with blue Powerade from the vending machine’), this is an intriguing look at a little-known world.”
Publishers Weekly

“An utterly engrossing and deeply human portrait of love behind bars, [Love in the Time of Incarceration] turns the caricature of the groupie 'prison wife' on its head, revealing the trials and triumphs of loving someone caught up in the prison system. This is the kind of non-fiction that reads like the best of fiction--nuanced, evocative, and ultimately, enlightening.”
—Susannah Cahalan, New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire and The Great Pretender

“I started reading this book and couldn't stop. There's nothing quite so beguiling as impossible love affairs, but what sets this book apart is the empathy and normalcy with which Greenwood writes about her subjects. It's a clear-eyed, compassionate look at prison love stories, and I found every relationship riveting.”
—Lisa Taddeo, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Three Women

“Big-hearted and insightful, funny and heartbreaking, [Love in the Time of Incarceration] paints a complex portrait of couples who came together during—and in spite of—incarceration. Greenwood delves deeply into these experiences, revealing paradoxes in the romantic lives of her subjects that will resonate with readers everywhere. A page-turner and a triumph.”
Ayelet Waldman, author of A Really Good Day

“Thorough, empathetic immersive journalism, [Love in the Time of Incarceration] is a testament to the power of action, belief, and hope—and urges us to rethink the toll of mass incarceration on loved ones who live free, but with force fields around their hearts and lives.”
—Sarah Weinman, author of The Real Lolita and editor of Unspeakable Acts: True Tales of Crime, Murder, Deceit & Obsession

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