BOOK REVIEW: The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin

Publication Date: August 1, 2023
Format: Ebook 
Genre:  Memoir

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
 319 Pages
Buy: Kindle | Audio


No one expects the police to knock on the million-dollar, two-story home of the perfect cul-de-sac housewife. But soccer mom Lara Love Hardin has been hiding a shady secret: she is funding her heroin addiction by stealing her neighbors’ credit cards.

Lara is convicted of thirty-two felonies and becomes inmate S32179. She learns that jail is a class system with a power structure that is somewhere between an adolescent sleepover party and Lord of the Flies. Furniture is made from tampon boxes and Snickers bars are currency. But Lara quickly finds the rules and brings love and healing to her fellow inmates as she climbs the social ladder to become the “shot caller,” showing that jailhouse politics aren’t that different from the PTA meetings she used to attend.

When she’s released, she reinvents herself as a ghostwriter. Now, she’s legally co-opting other people’s identities and getting to meet Oprah, meditate with The Dalai Lama, and have dinner with Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But the shadow of her past follows her. Shame is a poison worse than heroin—there is no way to detox. Lara must learn how to forgive herself and others, navigate life as a felon on probation, prove to herself that she is more good than bad, and much more.


This was a fantastic memoir that I finished in a day.  Lara Love found herself stealing credit cards, breaking into cars, and using algorithms to steal credit card numbers to support her and her husbands drug habit.  When she gets caught and is sent to prison she is very clueless but her main concern is her youngest son. Her second concern is where she can go to the bathroom.  Navigating this new world isn't easy and she could easily have slid into despair and continued using. Instead she finds Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now which teaches her to meditate, learn to live in the moment and how to live in joy.

The court dates and the interactions with her husband were heartbreaking and highlights many of the flaws in the justice system as it stands now. Once out trying to juggle all the obligations of CFS (child and family services), parole and a partial release program is overwhelming. It showcases the way the system sets people up to fail.  

Ultimately this story ends well, as Lara reinvents herself using her love of writing. She can claim at least 2 books that hit The NY Times best sellers list. Of course the hardest lesson she has to learn is forgiving herself as shame over her story held her paralyzed through most of life.  This is a beautiful testament to learning to love yourself, giving back, lifting people up and rebuilding your life one step at a time. 

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