Yours for Eternity: A Love Story on Death Row
Damien Echols, Lorri Davis
Blue Rider Press June 17, 2014
A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review
From one of the greatest legal injustices of our time sprang one of the most unlikely—and unforgettable—love stories. Damien Echols was just eighteen years old when he was condemned to death for a crime he didn’t commit. His case—that of the infamous “West Memphis Three”—gained notoriety after a documentary, Paradise Lost, exposed the biased nature of the trial and Echols as the precocious, charming—and tragic—figure at its center. Lorri Davis was a landscape architect living in New York City when she surreptitiously wandered into a showing of the film, and she left forever changed. She, too, was from the South, accustomed to being the outsider in a small town. She saw much of herself in Echols, understood how he could easily have been swept up in a witch hunt, and she couldn’t get him out of her head. So she wrote him a letter—and when it arrived in Echols’s penitentiary cell in April 1996, hers were some of the first kind words of support he heard.
Over the course of a remarkable sixteen-year correspondence, Echols and Davis grew to know each other, fall in love, and marry—all without ever being able to touch each other freely or be alone together. In Yours for Eternity, their extraordinary letters provide a singular portrait of their marriage, from the first, heady days of discovery to the final, painful months before Echols’s release. Through postscripts and footnotes, Echols and Davis describe how they overcame the enormous challenges and heartbreaks throughout the years—personal setbacks, legal complications, and much more. Yours for Eternity reveals a relationship unfolding in the most exceptional of circumstances. Powerful and incredibly intimate, it is a modern-day love story for the ages.
As I read the intimate correspondence between Damien and Lorri, I felt as if I was trespassing, at times I felt embarrassed I was reading their private thoughts and exchanges. It’s wonderful they allowed readers to glimpse into their very personal world. I will say I would have preferred a traditional written version of their story with a few letters included. I respect their relationship and the sharing of correspondence but after some time it became monotonous with a peculiar vibe. Very different experience reading a story based on years of letter writing between two virtual strangers.
It never ceases to amaze me how people stumble upon love, it always seems to creep up on you when you least expect it, announcing its presence subtlety or quite boldly. I’m sure Damien and Lorri are thankful a horrific event, a miscarriage of justice, in the end joined them together proving only – out of something terrible something beautiful came to fruition.
I don’t believe there is a love story we can label unconventional, in these times meeting a person in any fashion is acceptable, although certain circumstances create a very unique story for audiences.
I do hope all parties involved find peace, love and closure. Three innocent lives were brutally taken and three lives were forever changed leaving an unforgettable aftermath. Let’s keep in mind any one of us could have been a victim or a surviver of this tragedy only lending to the power of this entire story.