Reviews

Readers of “Balm”

“When I finished reading Balm, the first thing I wanted to do was read it again.” Kathy Pustejovsky – Houston, Texas

“The best book I’ve read in a long time.” Susan Steele – Dripping Springs, Texas

“I received your book from Amazon on Monday. Finished it the next day. Great job! For me, it was very compelling . . . ” Laurie Hohertz – Austin, Texas

“Wow! I just finished your book . . . once I started reading it, I could hardly put it down! What a testimony of God working in so many lives!” Brenda OlsonDassel, Minnesota

“With your next book, please send a cook and cleaning lady. Because I couldn’t put your book down!” Esther Greulich – Savoy, Illinois

“I just finished reading this compelling book about tragedy and restoration. Great writing.” Audrey Lehman Austin, Texas

“The transformation of the protagonist and of the Texas Criminal Justice System coincide as many work to support the victims of violent crime and bring healing to the broader community. A must-read for anyone interested in restorative justice.” Paul Collinson-Streng – Towson, Maryland

“Just finished the book and I am exhausted, inspired and thankful for your telling this incredible story of stories connecting people.” Kent Bohls – Smithville, Texas

“I’m almost done with reading this book. So good. I love and hate that I can vividly see everything happening as I read it. Great job!” Stephanie AllenAustin, Texas

“I am more than half way through your book. Really good job! I cannot imagine how much research you did for this book. You have captured personalities that make the telling gritty and very personal. I can’t imagine what might be next for the remainder of the book!” Lynnae Sorensen – Sioux Falls, South Dakota

“I just finished reading Balm and am in awe of Andrew’s story, the power of the restorative justice programs described, and the gift you have for writing.” Joy Penticuff – Austin, Texas

“My copy of There Is a Balm in Huntsville arrived yesterday. Today I sat down for a 15 minute ‘sneak peek.’ It’s now more than an hour later, and I can’t put it down! I’m twelve chapters into this heartbreaking yet hopeful saga. It’s beautifully written! I hope that many, many readers will make time to experience this journey through the criminal justice system and more importantly the restorative justice system.” Barbara Schutz – Austin, Texas

“The book is wonderful! Made me think of how powerful it is to forgive . . . Thanks so much for writing the book. I do plan to give my teenage grandson a copy of the book. I wish it was required for students to read before they learn to drive.” Betty LeudersAustin, Texas

“I just returned from a family wedding. I read on our long flights to and from cover to cover There is a Balm in Huntsville. It’s an inspiring and important book. It makes my heart sing that Bridges To Life helps heal the wounded and their sin-sick souls . . . along with the TDCJ’s Victim-Offender Dialogue Program that has been instrumental in my own family’s life.” Ellen Benninghoven – Houston, Texas

“I don’t ever remember reading 319 pages so fast . . . This book will lead us into deep conversations about important issues. So appreciated.” Leroy Haverlah – Austin, Texas

“I took the opportunity of a rainy morning to read the latest work of T. Carlos Anderson. There is a Balm in Huntsville is a rich weaving of individual and community-impacting stories, profound messages of insight and transformation, forgiveness and redemption . . . masterfully done. I am left to wonder how inter-connected we all are; what happens in one life touches every other.” Brad Highum – Austin, Texas

Professional Reviews for There is a Balm in Huntsville

Sunny Schwarz

“I was incredibly moved by this book.

“Many reviewers go on about how they couldn’t put a particular book down. Paradoxically, I couldn’t put Balm down but had to put it down, as the pain and anguish at times were too overwhelming. Thankfully, I was able to pick it back up and gained deeper insight for the restorative process it describes, a potential benefit for our overall humanity. There is hope in the belly of despair and heartache.

“T. Carlos Anderson’s writing produces a ‘balm’ that both sears and heals our spirits. He provides a clear and instructive blueprint through this narrative for putting real justice into the criminal justice system with authentic offender accountability, while lifting up the voices of victims and survivors of unspeakable crime. This should be required reading for anyone who can and/or wants to change a painful and ineffective system that rarely benefits anyone.”

Schwartz is the bestselling author of Dreams from the Monster Factory and founder of Resolve to Stop the Violence Project, San Francisco’s first restorative justice program, and Five Keys Charter School in San Fransisco, the nation’s first high school for incarcerated and post-release adults. 

Kevin Robbins

“When we meet him in the first sentence of There is a Balm in Huntsville, it’s hard to like Andrew Papke. T. Carlos Anderson shows us a rudderless young man in full-throated personal crisis, and it’s clear something consequential and terrible is about to occur, leaving innocent victims and their grieving families. On the twenty-fifth page of this compassionate and meaningful book, that’s exactly what happens. 

“In lesser hands, this could become a gratuitous, opportunistic and superficial story of unmitigated tragedy, with no greater point beyond exploiting everyone involved, Papke included. But Anderson finds larger truths to probe. We end up with lessons in humility, forgiveness, grace and personal responsibility. In the detached and richly detailed approach of literary journalism, Anderson shows us a community of people, thrust together through the events of one tragic night, who rise to a level of humanity that both inspires and requires readers to examine their own ethics, morals and principles. There is a Balm in Huntsville explores, and tests, our own capacity to accept and absolve. 

“Anderson shows us how and why Papke takes responsibility for the damage he did. He shows us how Papke acts on that acceptance, and how the victims of his decisions embrace him for it. In this age of avoidance and scapegoating, Papke shows us that, even in the worst circumstances imaginable, it’s possible to accept blame, confront guilt and try to make things better for all involved. And this is where Anderson most demonstrates full control of the story. He doesn’t portray anyone as sinners or saints, as heroes or as villains. He shows them as they are: flawed, troubled, conflicted, real. He shows us ordinary people realizing their potential to empathize and evolve. He shows us, in the end, how to live—and asks us to wonder if we could do the same.”

Robbins is the award-winning author of Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf and the recently released The Last Stand of Payne Stewart: The Year Golf Changed Forever, and Professor of Journalism at the University of Texas.

Phil Ruge-Jones

“In his first book, Just a Little Bit More, Anderson showed his ability to wade through deep philosophical and political waters as an able guide. This reader was stunned by his vast knowledge and his skill at drawing it all together in that book. 

“In There is a Balm in Huntsville, Anderson resists the distance that such analysis requires and allows the reader to hear this story of redemption itself on its own terms without analytic filters to mediate its meaning. He proves to be a keen listener and a wonderful weaver of a tale worth telling. Anderson joins Andrew Papke, the primary voice in the book, as together they ‘wrest good out of something deeply catastrophic.’ Well done!”

Ruge-Jones is a pastor, scholar, storyteller, and writer who lives in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Craig Nessan

“This is both a cautionary tale and a story of hope. Driving drunk with his life out of control, 19-year-old Andrew recklessly collided at night with another car, killing two young people in the other auto, David and Beth. Shock waves were sent from the point of impact in all directions, changing the lives of families and friends forever.

“One plot line involves Andrew’s entry into recovery and his taking initiative to allow his story to be shared as a warning to others, especially by a high school teacher who partners to educate her students about real consequences that can follow from unintended actions. Andrew’s story also appears in several other publications, each time as a way of making amends.

“The thread of hope involves the process and power of restorative justice. This process was to serve the emotional and spiritual healing of victims without manipulation by offenders and was made available only to those who take full responsibility for their actions. Yet the healing effects for participants clearly are mutual. Although the lasting consequences of the tragedy are never hidden, the book provides a case study for reimagining criminal justice beyond hatred, scapegoating, and retribution. Real people do harmful things and countless real people suffer loss and grief as a result.

“The tragedy is all too familiar. Anderson deserves our gratitude for a tale that can both save lives and lend hope of restoration for those affected by such tragedies.”

Nessan is Academic Dean and Professor of Contextual Theology at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.



Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good (ACTA-Chicago, 2014)
Just a Little Bit More takes on social and economic inequalities from a subversive faith perspective. Veteran journalist Sam Pizzigati says: “Anderson dots his book with fascinating asides on everything from the original egalitarian provenance of the retail price-tag in the 1870s to the introduction of luxury suites in Texas Stadium in the 1970s, a symbolic cultural moment when our ‘privileged elite began to separate from the rest of us.’ Anderson, above all, writes with a purpose. He’s hoping to help Americans understand that an egalitarian ideal helped create the United States. We need that ideal, Anderson helps us see, now more than ever.” 


SPEAKING AND TEACHING EVENTS

Contact T. Carlos “Tim” Anderson to speak about restorative justice. He’s spoken to groups all over Texas – Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Amarillo, Temple, Seguin – and is available to speak to your group.

“T. Carlos Anderson’s presentation based on There is a Balm in Huntsville was remarkable: riveting to the audience, provocative for our social consciences, and gripping to our hearts.” 

Dr. Annette Citzler, Texas Lutheran University

“Our prison ministry organization knew T. Carlos Anderson’s book was very well written. During his recent presentation, Anderson captured in his incredible gift of storytelling both the offender and victim sides of crime. His vivid verbal descriptions put me inside a prison and the audience could feel like they were part of the experience: witnessing inmates in prison actually change for the better.”

Jim Buffington, Bridges To Life, Chief Operating Officer 

“T. Carlos Anderson’s presentation on There Is A Balm in Huntsville was moving and informative. He shared just enough of the story to connect with those who had read the book and to engage those who had not. His description of the ‘Victim-Offender Dialogue’ program, and the healing and restoration that results, was heart-warming and encouraging.”

Betty Matejowsky, Marble Falls, Texas


“T. Carlos Anderson is an American treasure. He knows this country’s history well and uses it to promote common good. Time flew by during his presentation as he wove his book’s message with humor and kindness.”

Lanny Wilson, MD, Chicago, Illinois


“Anderson’s presentation is lively, open, and engaging. Hopeful and personal, this conversation nudges us away from our habitual competition in the culture of excess and into thoughtful commitment to the common good – into being neighbors.”

Dawn Silvius, Pastor, San Antonio, Texas



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By T. Carlos Anderson