That Bird Has My Wings by Jarvis Jay Masters
OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK 2022 “When I think about the fact that society, a nation, has sentenced me to death, all I can do is turn inside myself, to the place in my heart that wants so desperately to feel human, still connected to this world, as if I have a purpose.” The moving memoir of a Death Row inmate who discovers Buddhism and becomes an inspirational role model for fellow inmates, guards, and a growing public In 1990, while serving a sentence in San Quentin for armed robbery, Jarvis Jay Masters was implicated as an accessory in the murder of a prison guard. A 23-year-old Black man, Jarvis was sentenced to death in the gas chamber. While in the maximum security section of Death Row, using the only instrument available to him—a ball-point pen filler—Masters’s astounding memoir is a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit and the talent of a fine writer. Offering us scenes from his life that are at times poignant, revelatory, frightening, soul-stirring, painful, funny and uplifting, That Bird Has My Wings tells the story of the author’s childhood with parents addicted to heroin, an abusive foster family, a life of crime and imprisonment, and the eventual embracing of Buddhism. Masters’s story drew the attention of luminaries in the world of American Buddhism, including Pema Chodron, who wrote a story about him for O Magazine and offers a foreword to the book. Thirty-two years after his conviction, Masters is still on Death Row. A growing movement of people believe Masters is innocent, and are actively working within the legal system to free him.