This is the last review of Stanton’s book. I have two things to say about this book. The first is that I would buy this book, again, I found it just that interesting (editing issues aside).
Disclaimer: I know neither Angela Stanton, nor Phaedra Parks. I can only tell you how I view this story, as a reader – and as a Real Housewives of Atlanta viewer. I must also tell you, now, that I will not give too many details away. From what I’ve read so far, fact or fiction (which it is has yet to be proven in court), Stanton’s book tells a powerful tale. To give you too many details would rob you of the pleasure of reading it for yourself.
Stanton reminds us of something we know (or that many of us know) – that no child grows up wanting to be a prisoner, that nearly all prisoners had dreams before those dreams were lost, stolen, crushed, tossed aside. Stanton reveals that it is while behind prison bars that she begins thinking of the dreams she once had for herself before she walked head first into the fraud ring. She decides, following her mother’s death, to do something with her life that would give it meaning while she was still locked away. She decides to write a book. Stanton begins collecting the stories of the women around her and is surprised by the struggles she shares with many of the women to whom she has spoken. The stories end up in a book titled “Life Beyond These Walls”, released in 2008.
You have to wonder if she had been able to write the book the first time she went to jail, would she have done things differently. Would she have seen herself as a survivor of horrific abuse and not just a victim? Would she have recognized the courage it took to keep going when there was no one to defend her at age five? Would she have avoided the crowd who helped her continue her life of crime, putting her relationships with her children and mother at risk, taking those precious years away from them? If those stories had not stopped her from landing in prison a second time, would they have at least stopped her from getting into an altercation with the prison guards on the day she was on her way to her mother’s funeral? Her actions led her to being returned to prison without being able to say goodbye. This is where we learn from Stanton that Phaedra stood in her place at the funeral and helped say goodbye to her mother.
We learn something else about Stanton. She says she was rearrested on a fraud charge and given the option of going free, IF, she claims, she helps the FBI by setting up one of her former rapper friends to sell drugs to her. She has named names all this time. She continues to do so. He is yet another rapper whose name readers will know. Her association with him is known because her phone conversations while behind bars were audiotaped (presumably that includes any conversation she had with Phaedra – when they were still friends). Stanton refuses to fabricate evidence – she claims she has no evidence to share, otherwise, and begs for mercy. She is lucky and mercy is granted by the courts. She is able to stay out of prison pending her court date. Even still, she has nowhere to live, no one to care for her children, and has been living at the city mission with her children. At this time she maintains that Parks still ignores her requests for help in keeping her children with her.
We learn more what life is like for a convicted felon, at least in GA at that time, and it’s not pretty. Moving from shelter to shelter, having no contact with her former friend, even when she shows up at her law office, and not being able to get a job –not even at a stripclub, because of her convicted felon past, things get worse for Stanton. Are her money woes at the heart of her decision to write this book? The betrayal she feels? Both? As a reader I found myself speculating her point in writing this book, again. Just as I speculate, there is a point at which it seems there could be some way to salvage the relationship she says she had with Parks. Parks promises to help her with the latest pending charge – knowing that Stanton and her children were moving shelter to shelter. Stanton is still refusing to set up her friend.
Her luck is wildly varied. Low lows are more likely than good luck and highs. She reaches a point when she nearly marries for money – you’ll know what that means if you read the book. She finally finds a decent paying job, one that gives her the hope she’ll be able to raise her children rather than turn them over to family members who can’t afford to raise them, or may put them at risk to become survivors of predators. She works for the state in the transportation department! She moves from crimes against the state to working for the state. Things look hopefully when the federal trial comes and guess what? I’m sure you’ve put the pieces together. Continued betrayal! Parks is nowhere to be seen despite what is interpreted as a promise to represent her.Parks cites a conflict of interest as the reason she can’t represent Stanton. The double punch comes when Stanton is portrayed by E. (Everett, Apollo’s “brother”) as the mastermind who put the entire operation together. Remember, this is a woman who was not yet 21, I believe, when she met Parks and became friends with her. She had not completed high school, she was at that time – by her own account, making ends on petty jobs. She is pegged as the mastermind?
Oddly enough, she is again shown mercy and ends up on probation. I wish, at this point, Stanton was able to report a great life, and felt the need to tell her story because she is in a great place. Her highs and lows are, again, higher and lower than almost anything I can imagine. The job with the Transportation Department that saves her eventually becomes the job that puts her in a precarious situation when her success becomes threatening to others. She meets Goldie Taylor and gets help putting “Life Beyond These Walls” together, only to lose that support through no fault of her own, it is a matter that is beyond the control of either of them. She hustles a legal hustle that puts her at risk for another sexual assault by a famous person she should have been able to trust – someone whose admission of rape, Stanton says she has on tape. Then another “up” moment. “Life Beyond These Walls” is published and supported by high profile member of the ATL community – the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr – Dr. Alveda King. More lows, Stanton sees not only Phaedra and Apollo, but E (Everett, the partner in crime who claimed she was the mastermind), together again. Where? She seems him TWICE on “Real Housewives.” Everett is given the royal treatment, despite the fact that she and her children lived in a shelter. Just WOW! Had she not described his scenes on RHOA, I would never have known who he was. I never paid that much attention to those in Phaedra and Apollo’s lives.
The book ends with Stanton laying the case for why this book is about justice, not vengeance. I’ll let you read that to determine for yourself if she’s done a good job making the case. I’m (mostly) convinced. Let me know what you think!
Click here for Book Review Part 1
Click here for Book Review Part 2
Click here for Book Review Part 3
As always, leave your comments below. Tell us at what you think about this saga!