Imagine you are a twenty-three-year-old illiterate black inmate at San Quentin Prison, unable to read or answer your mail, walking blindly past warning signs posted on prison walls. Then out of the blue, a well-known reading specialist comes right to your door to teach you how to read. This book, A Rescue from Illiteracy, tells that very story.
It all began during Mary Pecci's many workshops, when she would be confronted by participants who claimed that adult illiterates had "passed the point of learning." In an effort to disprove this theory, Mary set out to find an adult illiterate and teach him to read.
She began to amuse herself with the thought that a prison was one of the few places where she could get an adult illiterate who would be predictably available. But San Quentin, the closest prison, was a maximum-security prison. She was scared stiff. As the days passed, she began to be intrigued by the thought of some poor, lost illiterate in some prison hellhole receiving the services of a professional reading specialist. She could picture him pinching himself to see if it was really happening. She then thought to herself, Wouldn't it be fun to bring a miracle into someone's life?
So, Mary prayed for a sign from the Lord, and when she received that sign, she made the arrangements to volunteer to teach an inmate to read at San Quentin Prison.
As this story unfolds, it sheds light on three major issues that have a critical impact on our society: the crippling handicap of illiteracy; what life is like in the prison system; and the inadequacy of our public education system.