EARLY PRAISE FOR
This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the purpose and utility of our carceral systems, exploring the cascading effects of trauma on behavior, and anyone doing the work of critically investigating systems to reimagine safety, justice, [human] connection, reconciliation, and the wholeness of the human condition.”
Fighting Time is a profound, sometimes shocking but beautifully poignant story about two teens on the cusp of their lives, who are tragically affected by a random violent act. Amy Banks and Isaac Knapper are brutally honest and boldly vulnerable as they describe the far-reaching ripple effects of their trauma, showing us how a singular event can profoundly change the trajectory of one’s life.
Decades later, after an unusual turn of events, this unlikely pair is brought together by a force larger than them, teaching us all how resilience, persistence, sheer will, and a loving connection can help transform us, heal our pain, and find lasting peace from the unspeakable.
Having known Amy for over thirty years, my heart is bursting with pride for her and Isaac. They have joined forces to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that truth, love, and the tenacity of the human spirit conquers all.
This is an incredible story, a memoir of trauma in two voices, each wounded, each courageous, and each inviting us into a story of healing and recovery. This book is a deep dive into the worlds of mental health and social justice that demonstrates their inseparable connection.
Fighting Time is a brave and necessary book. It is a book that pushes the reader beyond thin and familiar abstractions about social justice and systemic oppression. In this book, Dr. Amy Banks and Mr. Isaac Knapper put flesh and bone and spirit onto institutional practices and social behaviors designed to lock inequalities in place, thus perpetuating the chronic disconnections that corrode the human spirit. Through her expertise as a trauma psychiatrist with deep expertise in human neurobiology, Dr. Banks invites the reader to join her in each aching step of her grief journey. Mr. Knapper invites the reader to look into his eyes, to see the soul of a man who fights to protect and serve those whom he loves – even when all he has is a broken hand. Together, they illuminate how “murder changes the story of who you are and what you can expect of life.”
Fighting Time transforms stories of grace and grief into a palpable experience. The impact of grief on the individual families and on the culture as a whole is made plain. Verbatim transcriptions of the judicial injustice illustrate how systems serve up grief word by dehumanizing word. Whether cast as victim or perpetrator, to be entrapped in a justice-denying system is to be susceptible to soul-scarring abuse and humiliation. That the Angola prison system has its own zip code is a poignant reminder that location is a robust predictor of viability on any societal measure of well-being. Banks offers the reader a glimpse into the life of a White, upper middle class family in bucolic Maine where education is the portal to infinite opportunity. In contrast, Knapper opens the doors to the public housing projects of New Orleans, where the contours of family love and expectation are shaped by the brutal vulnerabilities of everyday survival. In sum, the reader comes to see how “zip code” provides differential access to dignity, mattering, and belonging.
There are some books that make it impossible to “not know.” Fighting Time is such a book. One enters into the book and is confronted with questions that can only be answered by radical engagement with the life of those we call Other and by confronting the illusions and denials that comprise what is called Self. The reward is a renewed claim on human dignity, a strengthened commitment to social justice, and perhaps a revisioning of human possibility.
Racial inequalities permeate every aspect of our culture and Fighting Time reminds us how those inequities affect our perspectives, experiences, and life outcomes. It reflects how little has changed when it comes to the treatment of our most underserved and vulnerable populations and how grief and loss can bring divided communities and people together. Fighting Time reminds the reader of the importance of seeing past zip code, skin color, education and age, factors our unjust systems are created to reward or punish. In this book, Banks and Knapper tell the story of two grieving families who both lost so much but through their unique connection and storytelling have healed not only themselves but their community. This book will challenge its readers to see the justice system with a deeper understanding and a greater sensitivity to its inherent inequities. Fighting Time will inspire readers to build a movement of connection, forgiveness and change.
Amy Banks and Isaac Knapper have given us a gift in these pages. By digging deep into their own tragedy and trauma, they expose the depths of suffering endured within the criminal legal system. They show us difficult truths about injustice committed in our collective name, but they do not leave us there, lost. They bring us on their own journey of restoration and healing, one that shows us that our default to punishment is too simplistic an answer to harm. If there was ever a doubt, Fighting Time illustrates with exceptional clarity the utter resilience of the human spirit.
“We are often told that justice is blind. I am often reminded of the image of Lady Justice whose blindfold is covering only one eye. The criminal justice system is one of many institutions in the United States that has allowed bias, racism, gender, and classism to inform its operation. These decisions have impacted the lives of many with over inflated sentencing and others that were innocent but convicted of crimes they did not commit. In this powerful story of grief and pain, Dr. Amy Banks experiences a detrimental loss to later discover the injustice she faced along with the accused, Isaac Knapper, of her father’s murder. More than a memoir, this book is a call to action for all of us to re-examine the damage that happens to so many lives as a result of social and racial injustice. ”