Salvation on Death Row: The Pamela Perillo Story

Reviewed by: Alyssa Roat, a professional writing major at Taylor University



Title: Salvation on Death Row

Author: John T. Thorngren

Publisher: KiCam Projects

Publication Date1/9/18

Format: Print book

Length: 207 pages


This book tells the story of Pamela Perillo, a woman convicted of capital murder in 1980 and sentenced to Death Row. From her humble beginnings growing up in a dysfunctional California home to her present situation in prison, her life is a dramatic and moving tale of brokenness and redemption.

The memoir delves into the depths of Perillo’s childhood abuse, her teenage drug addiction, her tragic losses, and her adulthood crimes with a tender yet matter-of-fact tone. The record of her imprisonment and trials provides deep insight into legal procedures and prison life, and her transformation into a dedicated Christ follower inspires the reader. A strong theme weaves throughout the book of the value of all people and the beauty of redemption and relying on God in uncertainty, even unto death.

The memoir is well written, making a complicated storyline understandable while keeping the reader interested. The first-person point of view drives the narrative, and fascinating details about the legal system generate interest when the story idles in court. Honesty shines through, introducing even the most broken people in a way that the reader can identify with. However, the narrative does tend to stall now and then on people who have little bearing on primary storyline, as well as on legal matters and prominent figures who have no direct connection the central character. Also worth noting, the strong stance taken against the death penalty may be controversial. Overall, the memoir is well-crafted and insightful.


Rating (1 to 5)

4 stars

Suggested Audience

The book speaks uninhibitedly about abuse, violence, and drug use, as well as the details of specific murders and lethal injection. Due to sensitive and adult themes, it is recommended for ages 18 and older.

Christian Impact

The memoir tells an inspirational story of redemption and faith. It reminds the reader of the worth of all people and God’s ability to redeem and forgive anyone. It may inspire readers to get involved in prison ministries and enhance compassion for the lost.

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Salvation on Death Row: The Pamela Perillo Story

About Ceil Carey

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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