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A Mother’s Story: My Battle to Free David Milgaard

by Joyce Milgaard with Peter Edwards

Joyce Milgaard fought for 28 years to secure the release of her son, David, from prison. During those years she held on to her unconditional love for (and belief in) her child. A Mother’s Story, co-written with Toronto Star reporter Peter Edwards, is not only Joyce’s story, it is also a gift to her family and all the friends and acquaintances who stood by her through the ordeal.

David Milgaard was arrested for the rape and murder of Gail Miller in 1969. The rape was one of a slew in Saskatoon at the time, and there was public pressure on the police force to catch the perpetrator.
David was a wandering hippie, driving around with a bunch of friends who were drinking, taking drugs, and embracing the philosophy of free love. They were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and the result was that David spent 28 years of his life trying to prove his innocence, almost all of it behind bars.

A Mother’s Story chronicles the struggles of those years, from the day the police knocked on Joyce’s door and announced that her son had been arrested, to after his release many years later. But this is not an angry confessional; rather, it’s an honest telling of the tale. The tone is conversational, and facts are stated without laying blame, except where it’s due.

Reading this book is like sitting down and listening to Joyce over a cup of tea. It is written in a very direct manner. She doesn’t sound bitter and credits much of that to her faith in God. Even when she talks about her faith, she is careful not to lose herself in it. Joyce is as pragmatic about religion as she is about David’s attempts at suicide, the brick wall of the justice system, and the price her other children paid for the time she spent trying to get David’s release.

Joyce acknowledges that she wasn’t there for her other children, and she doesn’t pretend that they didn’t suffer. She also knows that many Canadians felt terrible about the wrongful conviction of her son. But somehow, if you listen to her story, she provides the balm needed to heal the wounds.