River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey, by Sister Helen Prejean is a mesmerizing description of Prejean's path of life. From the very beginning, the reader meets this honest to goodness young woman who joins the convent to become a nun. She is an extrovert and faces everything that comes her way with impulse and zest for becoming spiritual by loving God every inch of the way.
Prejean lives in Louisiana in a white suburb and does not encounter the African Americans who live in poverty not too far from her suburb where the two groups do not interact with each other. Hence Prejean is oblivion to the plight of the African Americans living near her. The reader becomes aware that Prejean is an academic, goes to university, becomes a teacher and loves literature. She believes her role in life is to become spiritual and enable the young students to be aware of Jesus and live like He did while on earth all within the confines of her white neighbourhood.
Over time, Prejean is enlightened by another nun's quest to work for social justice right in Louisiana among the African American group. Prejean follows suit and moves from being apolitical to political as she engages in working with the African Americans in her neighbourhood. The author aptly describes her transformation with wit and humour as the reader observes this change. There are episodes of her more than friendly relationship with a priest and its evolvement.
Towards the end the reader gets insights into Prejean's activism in social justice issues that culminate to her writing Dead Man Walking and how that was an inspiration for a movie of the same name.
River of Fire is a captivating read about one woman's transformative life.