Sweet Hell on Fire by Lunsford

Let me begin by saying, Sara Lunsford’s Sweet Hell on Fire: A Memoir of the Prison I Worked In and the Prison I Lived In is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. In her writing debut Lunsford details a year long account of her role as female officer in the male prison system and her dangerous decline into alcoholism. A gritty depiction, Sweet Hell on Fire leaves little to the imagination chronicling how her violent exchanges with inmates seem to seep into her daily life and behavior.

Sweet Hell on Fire
A Memoir of the Prison I Worked In and the Prison I Lived In
By Sara Lunsford
Sourcebooks
November 2012

Sara Lunsford notes in the foreword that when she originally scripted her memoir it spoke only of her life on the job, leaving out personal details that would inevitably reveal any mistakes or shortcomings. As a reader I am so thankful that she decided to re-evaluate this decision. By disclosing her imperfections she was able to make it not only a collection of frightening battles of bravado between herself and the inmates, but instead a profound, hear wrenching account of her personal evolution. I do feel, however, that there are certainly times where Lunsford’s writing style should have been a bit more descriptive, focusing less on profanities and more on prose.

Overall, for a first time reviewer I am certainly satisfied with my decision to read such a compelling story written by such an honest author.


Lindsay Green is a Midwest gal spending her twenties in South. While she doesn’t read as often as she should thanks to Netflix, she mostly enjoys memoirs and all types of fiction. Most of her time is spent with friends playing board games or discussing the best, new television series.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.