Letters to My Son in Prison

How a Father and Son Found Forgiveness for an Unforgivable Crime

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Pub Date 06 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 17 Oct 2023

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Ken raised his three sons in a squeaky-clean suburb of Los Angeles. He envisioned fatherhood as coaching their sports teams, taking them to church (where he was the pastor), and visiting colleges one day. Instead, he got an education on the street names of opioids, fluency in rehab vernacular, and an insider’s view of the California prison system, when his middle son, Lucas, accidentally killed a man with his car while high on heroin.

Ken was tormented by doubt. What did I do wrong as a dad? Will my son ever be okay? Will my marriage survive this trauma?

Estranged from his son, Ken strived to rebuild their relationship. Face-to-face visits made them feel like they were in a fishbowl and phone calls were interrupted with inmates screaming. Letter writing turned out to be the best way to connect. Writing the letters proved cathartic for Ken. And they were clarifying for Lucas, as he made sense of losing his way, ultimately writing a heart-wrenching apology to the widow of his victim.

The written word became the perfect medium for a father to reconnect with his son—and himself.

Ken is most revealing, however, about the impact all this had on his faith. To go from the podium to the back pew and then out the back door disoriented him. How could he redefine his faith outside the four walls of religion?

With a distinct voice and disarming honesty, Letters to My Son in Prison offers a candid snapshot of fatherhood, a refreshing take on marriage, and a creative vision of faith.

Ken raised his three sons in a squeaky-clean suburb of Los Angeles. He envisioned fatherhood as coaching their sports teams, taking them to church (where he was the pastor), and visiting colleges one...

Advance Praise

“A gripping true story from beginning to end… It is intelligent, humorous at times, and overflowing with spiritual insights. One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever encountered.” —Cathy Byrd, author of The Boy Who Knew Too Much

“I’m not a believer and I’m not a father. So why do I like Guidroz’s book so much? Because Letters to My Son in Prison makes the grade as literature worthy of reading in depth. It’s raw, straight from the heart. No treacle for effect. Ken has laid his heart and soul on the table and done it with unflinching courage.” —David Booth, coauthor of Own the Room

“Guidroz shares his wisdom and insight in a relatable way. This makes it easy to connect with and feel invested in the story. If you are looking for a deeply moving and inspirational read, I highly recommend this book. It will renew your faith in love and redemption and give you a sense of hope.” —Barbara Legere, author of Keven’s Choice 

“A gripping true story from beginning to end… It is intelligent, humorous at times, and overflowing with spiritual insights. One of the most thought-provoking books I’ve ever encountered.” —Cathy...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781647046798
PRICE $9.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 27 members

Featured Reviews

I so badly wanted to stop reading this book after I saw what it was about, but I couldn't. It wouldn't let me go, All I could think of was how glad I'm not him.

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A very emotive read about a Dad whose son is in prison following years of heroin addiction illness sadly amd horrifically ending the son up with a manslaughter charge
The Dad is very open and honest in his self questioning and also his spiritual life questioning
At times I did feel I was intruding on his personal feelings but the author I feel needed to write this and wanted readers to join him and feel everything he was
Moving,honest and genuine

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This is a beautiful, heartbreaking memoir of a man who found God to be who He says He is in one of the hardest seasons of his life. I couldn't put the book down and finished it in 24 hours. It's not a sanitized Jesus he proclaims, but a Jesus who refines us (and woos us, and loves us) in the dark night of the soul.

Guidroz's authenticity and vulnerability are piercing, precious, and weighty. And I think this text will resonate with many people - fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, people struggling in addiction, and people who are in the 'dark night of the soul' themselves.

I highly recommend it.

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“You also know in your heart, that life will not always be good. And when it turns, when the goodness is swallowed up by that which is not good, whatever that may be, in whatever form that may take, you recall this verse:

When times are good be happy. When times are bad remember that God made one as well as the other.”

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me read Letters to My Son in Prison by Ken Guidroz.

This story is about a family losing a son to drug addiction and going to prison. It’s about a father questioning his parenting skills and asking what he could have done different raising his boys. Its a story of a family’s faith being shaken and tested to the core and finding God and rediscovery Him all over again. We see how God brings someone who experienced addiction and made it through to provide their son HOPE.

Through the exchange of beautifully written letters, a father and son experience gradual renewal and rebirth during their a time of darkness.

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Out of the Nothing is where the Gratitude is found
This book is a true gem! It hit so many emotions for me. We follow a father who writes back and forth with his son who is in prison. The way they approach the crime, the punishment, God and everything else in between was so touching to me. As a recovered person I was able to see things from a new perspective and truly feel emotions that the father and family went through. I could feel for Lucas (the son) who lived the nightmare I always feel would happen to me. This is a must read. It’s a story that will stay with me for awhile. I highlighted so many passages in my kindle. Thank you for sharing this story, thank you for the honesty, the rawness of everything. I will be thinking of this story for some time while recommending it to friends and loved ones! Amazon has this categorized as “parenting” & “fatherhood” which is true but it goes so far beyond that! #letterstomysoninprison #kenguidroz #addiction #forgiveness #rehabilitation #bookstagram #booktok #memoir

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This book reminded me quite a big of David Magee's Dear William, which I also enjoyed and found emotionally impactful. The author dug deeply into how his family got to the point they were at, and he didn't absolve anyone from blame. He treated the victims respectfully and never tried to excuse or condone his son's actions. His raw honesty and willingness to show his pain gutted me in places.
This was well-written, moving, and encouraging in many ways. The letter he wrote as David had me crying. I'm glad I read this book and will remember it for quite some time.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for my complimentary digital copy. All opinions are my own.

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“If we’re not careful ,” I said softly, “he’s gonna drag us down with him.”

Wow, this could not have been easy to share and it was difficult to digest, but I'm glad this father had the courage. It's hard to admit our own faults, let alone those of our addicted loved ones, especially as terrible as killing an innocent man. It's a line that you pray the addict in your life will never cross. It happens though, and it's rare you get a peek behind the curtains like this.

It's important to remember that this book is from the perspective of a father and in no way endorsing what his son did or telling others how to feel about it. I felt a range of emotions from hurt to shame to anger to cringing, if I'm being honest.

You never think this is going to happen to you. I explicitly told the addicts in my life that I would never stick by them if they hurt an innocent. That's particularly why I wanted to read this. When you take a step back personally, it's easy to throw a "bad" person's life away but when it's someone you love, I imagine you feel differently. That's just the way it is. I am a big advocate of prison reform so I have to wrestle with this conundrum sometimes(although he got a more than fair sentence).

The stories were a bit triggering for me as I do have PTSD from dealing with an addict. They're in recovery now and I'm grateful for every moment but you never forget.

This isn't for everyone but it could be a good resource for families of addicts.

Always remember the victim.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for the opportunity to read and review.

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I really enjoyed this book, a very honest account of some very difficult feelings and emotions, and how he went about dealing with a nightmare situation.
This book follows a fathers journey as he questions his parenting and faith when his son faces the consequences of doing the unthinkable. It is well written, and taps into an array of emotions. I appreciated the honesty of his feelings and judgements of others, whilst doing the tough work of self reflection. Definitely a story that will stay with me.

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I enjoyed this book as I love memoirs. I can't even fathom as a parent going through anything like this. To see your children make mistakes, suffer and then have to deal with the consequences of their actions is the worst. We only want the very best for our children and when they fall short we all feel like we are to blame. Where did we do wrong? What could of we done differently? Why? I am not a go to church every Sunday or even holiday type of person. I do believe in a higher power but yet have never full read the Bible. That being said I did like the letters in regards to David and the one about evolution. They gave a different perspective/insight.

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This book will pull every emotional string you have and leave you awed by the journey this father and son went through together. Ken Guidroz has bared his heart, accepting the guidance of his faith to lead his actions. It is not a "feel good" book. Nothing in his life had prepared him to face his son and guide them both to the light. A book you will never forget and will refer to your friends over and over again.

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This book hooked me in rom the cover. The subject matter is actually so much more than letters to my son in prision. Its about everyday parenting dilemma. Alongside loosing yourself in so nany ways alongside your belief in something higher.. it was written from a raw no holds bared point if view with more of a narative than a collection of letters whi h gives the book much more feeling.
Well written and edited. A pleasure to share such a story.
Thank you to netgallery and publisher and author for a highly re omnended 5 star read.

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Beautiful book. Loved it all. Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

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I was so impressed with the honesty in this book and with the way he kept it focused on his own story and journey even as it intersected with so many others.

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Thank you Netgalley for the review copy. This memoir was heartbreaking. The author dug deep and was extremely candid about a tragic personal situation. Highly recommend for anyone wanting to understand addiction, particularly parents of adult children who have had these challenges. The way the author and his wife finally set boundaries when the son was arrested was inspiring. It definitely set the path for them all to get on the road to recovery. Of course, my heart breaks also for the victim and his wife and family.

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A beautiful, heartwritten and heart warming story of a Father's love, doubt and devotion. I laughed, cried, feared and cheered along with Ken as he poured his heart out across these pages.

From seeing Ken's vulnerability as a son at his father's bedside, to reading his incredibly thought-provoking and vulnerable letters to his son, I could not put this book down.

I turned the final page desperately hoping to read that Ken had a library of books he'd written waiting for me to read - but I know that this won't be his last either and I look forward to hopefully reading Ken's versions of bible stories many of us may gloss over or overlook because his gift of storytelling is so powerful!

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Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I was a little hesitant to pick this memoir up, just because I am not religious, however, I needn't have worried. Although a solid section of the narrative was about the loss of faith and revitalization of it, I found it a refreshing take of how beliefs are challenged in moments of crisis.

I think it’s also super important that a former church leader wrote this book. Many times church leaders and those in high standing are exemplified to an extreme and become a sort of untouchable, golden model for how to be in this world. I believe Ken writing this book will be very important for other Christian families struggling, as it pulls the curtain back on perfection, showing that each and every family (regardless of who you are) has struggles and must fight through darkness to get back to the light. That anyone can be in a situation that causes their faith to waiver, regardless of who you are.

Most novels and memoirs concerning addiction often focus on the addiction itself, rather than the aftermath. Whereas Ken focuses almost completely on the aftermath post-addiction and the fraying of relationships, faith, marriages etc. that come with having a loved one that at rock bottom. Not only does Ken show his son (the former addict) at his rock bottom, but he also opens up about his own. He doesn’t hide the extreme emotions he felt throughout the memoir, nor does he shield the reader from the truth about how those emotions affected the others in his family.

The memoir becomes centered around the letters that Ken and his son write to one another while Lucas (the son) is in prison and how writing is the instrument that allows healing between him and his son. As I think many of us can relate, talking about some of the tough stuff in person or even verbally can be difficult to communicate, where writing allows a slight level of anonymity that can make communication easier. One thing that I liked is that Ken puts some of these letters into the memoir itself, but at the same time, not so many that it is overwhelming.

It was beautiful to read along as time and writing healed so many wounds. Would recommend this, especially to anyone wavering in their faith, dealing with substance abuse or dealing with strained relationships with children.

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Lucas Guidroz was high on heroin “and a week into a raging drug-and-alcohol binge” when his car hit a 53-year-old bicycler, killing him instantly. While he “saw the crumpled body on the road and immediately knew what he’d done…he floored it.”

"Letters to My Son in Prison" is a book that left a significant impact, offering a poignant and raw glimpse into the struggles of addiction and the human experience behind prison bars. While it occasionally veered into preachiness, it excelled in portraying parents as flawed, loving individuals. The book's depiction of prison life and the often stigmatized population within is both eye-opening and thought-provoking. It leaves readers pondering the emotions of the widow, adding a layer of complexity to this touching narrative. Overall, a powerful read that resonates on multiple levels.

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This was a book about a man dealing with the addiction that filled his family. He has three sons—two of which struggle with addiction. One of his sons makes this terrible decision and it results in a horrible loss of life and prison sentence.
But the tragic parts of all that turn out to be just what sad and son needed. They start writing letters to each other that discuss everything. Things that likely wouldn’t have been discussed had it not been for their situation. It’s a lovely bond between father and son in the middle of bad times. I enjoyed the story line itself of the sons going through addiction and struggles. I could have gone without some of the other stuff.

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Gritty. Sad. Raw. Real. Uncomfortable. Inspiring. Tragic. Redemptive. Hopeful. Heartbreaking. These are just a few descriptors of this book, the true events it describes, and how I felt reading it. Author Guidroz lays bare his soul about the tragedy that engulfed his entire family and ruined another’s.

Five stars, period. If you have an incarcerated loved one, this book is for you. If you know someone who has an incarcerated loved one, give this book to them. Really, unless you are only a fan of fiction, you should read this book. I’m giving a copy of it to my Mom.

My thanks to BooksGoSocial and the author via Netgalley. All opinions are mine and offered freely. But seriously, get this book; if not for you then for someone you know.

#LettersToMySonInPrison #Netgalley #BooksGoSocial #KenGuidroz #LucasGuidroz #Kindlesallthewaydown #raw #real #gritty #inspirational #emotional #uncomfortable #tragic #gritty #sad #hopeful #heartbreaking

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This book was so real and I really enjoyed Ken Guidroz sharing his story and his heart. He did a great job of explaining the legal system and his feelings as a parent. He was very truthful about the problems that he and his wife faced as well as their other children.

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Ken Guidroz is father to three sons, a pastor in a local church, and a man with problems. His children don’t quite live the life he envisioned for them. They have difficulty being the kids of the pastor ~ can’t misbehave, can’t go dancing but his middle son Lucas grows up as a drug addict. Mr Guidroz and his wife try everything to get him sorted and he tries rehab several times. Eventually they withdraw slightly as it is affecting them too much. Then Lucas kills a man when he’s driving.

The book is incredibly honest and the author absolutely examines every nuance of his own life and his choices and how they impact his son. But under everything there is hope as Lucas and his father bond through long letters and reading classic books. A young man who was disruptive and selfish becomes one reading Solzhenitsyn, Vonnegut, and Faulkner and discussing philosophy and theology.

I enjoyed the book and all the various characters introduced. It was interesting to see into lives so horribly impacted by a single act - including the family of the dead man. The way people react to the family is at times heartbreaking and sometimes uplifting but always written with frank generosity.

I was given a copy of this book by NetGalley.

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