Praying for Restraint is an eye-opener. Read it!

I am thrilled that I got a chance to read Allen Long’s memoir, Praying for Restraint. The title says it all as there was no restraint shown to patients and fellow workers at the hospital where Long worked for five years. His memoir tells it all.

First, here is a little bit about Praying for Restraint:

Allen Long works as a CNA-certified nursing assistant-at that supposed sanctuary of caring, an inner-city general hospital. What an unforgettable parade of bizarre, needy, abusive, menacing, endearing, and poignant humanity passes through its doors. And those are just the staff and administrators! Meanwhile, the patient population spans the affluent and sophisticated to the homeless, the mentally ill, addicts, gang members, and criminals in custody. Praying for Restraint takes the reader on a journey into the absurd and surreal that is ultimately uplifting and harrowing, both funny and heartbreaking. Long’s struggle to survive a relentlessly toxic work environment with body, soul, and marriage intact is as gripping as the battle against childhood abuse in his previous memoir, Less than Human. Reviewers found that book “inspiring, honest, and beautifully written, engaging, and thought-provoking.” Praying for Restraint earns that praise and more.

Praying for Restraint is now available to purchase exclusively on Amazon in both paperback and as a Kindle book.  

Praying for Restraint is now also available on Barnes and Noble and

Google books. See below.

About the Author, Allen Long

Here’s how I became a writer. When I was a child in Arlington, Virginia, as soon as I understood what stories were, I began telling them to anyone who would listen. As a fifth-grader, I was recruited by the Storytellers, a small group of supervised fifth- and sixth-graders who told stories once a month to kids in the first, second, and third grades.

When I reached sixth grade, my teacher allowed me to skip all of my English assignments in exchange for me writing her a short story each week. In seventh grade, one of my stories placed second in an English class competition.

Storytelling seems to have been hardwired into my DNA.

One of my favorite memories from childhood is telling my younger brother, David, a made-up story every night during the summers we slept in twin beds in our cool basement.

I earned a BA in Communications/Journalism from Virginia Tech. While I was there, I took every creative writing class offered and wrote a story that placed second at a regional literary festival sponsored by nearby Hollins University. During my student days, I also worked half-time for two years as a reporter for The Roanoke Times.

After I graduated, I accepted a scholarship to earn an MA in English/fiction writing from Hollins University, where I wrote the first half of a novel. I then received a second scholarship and a teaching assistant position to pursue an MFA in fiction writing at the University of Arizona.

Shortly after I graduated, I published a story called “Second Honeymoon” in Concho River Review. After that, I decided to continue my writing education by working with master editor Tom Jenks. When Tom was a senior editor at Scribner’s, he completed Ernest Hemingway’s unfinished novel, The Garden of Eden, which became a bestseller.

I published two more stories, and then I decided to change gears and write a memoir called “Soul Breach” about the high level of illegal and unethical behavior I’d witnessed while working in the management consulting field. The story was published, and my good friend and editor, Kit McIlroy, told me it was the best piece I’d ever written, and he encouraged me to write more nonfiction.

I followed his advice and wrote and published magazine-length memoirs about the happiest, most intriguing, and worst moments in my life. These combined pieces became my first book, Less than Human: A Memoir (Black Rose Writing, 2016).

After that, I published memoirs on a wide variety of subjects, including two about my work as an assistant nurse in a poorly managed inner-city hospital populated by challenging patients, including violent mentally ill ones who often were not sedated or restrained.

“Keep writing about that hospital, and you’ve got your next book,” Kit said. I followed his advice, eventually producing my second book, Praying for Restraint: Frequent Flying with an Inner-City Hospital CNA (Legacy Book Press, 2021).

One final comment—I’ve loved visiting zoos and aquariums my whole life, and I’ve raised box turtles, swum with sea turtles, and gone on multiple dolphin- and whale-watching expeditions. Therefore, you may notice that quite a bit of wildlife has crept into my writing. At last count, I spied lions, tigers, giraffes, eland, monkeys, chimps, elephants, alligators, caimans, box turtles, sea turtles, bottlenose dolphins, and humpback whales. Have I missed any?

You can discover more about Allen and his work on his website:

Here are a few of my thoughts about Praying for Restraint:

Allen Long has written a detailed and very descriptive memoir of his five years as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) at the Malmed Memorial Hospital. His stories of the patients, the doctors, nurses, and other CNAs are unbelievable and so well told. The hostilities these people expressed toward one another simply did not relate to giving good patient care. In fact that was impossible in that atmosphere. Mistakes were made, reports were covered up, patients were neglected or uncared for, and even allowed to walk out if they had the capability to walk. Of course, as Long describes it, some patients were extremely hard to deal with. They abused and yelled at the caregivers or were so mentally ill or crippled they couldn’t help themselves.

I recently spent a lot of time in hospitals during my husband’s long illness before his death last November, and I never saw such horrible behavior as Long describes. But of course, I didn’t know what was going on behind the scenes. So Long’s memoir is a huge eye-opener.

He also describes how his job and his bad days on the job affected him personally and his marriage. At least he and his wife could get away once in a while, but she also couldn’t cope with what he was going through. She literally had to train him not to complain to her. But he knew complaining or making suggestions or trying to follow the prescribed protocols would get him nowhere anyway.

So I congratulate Allen Long for getting it all out here. He is a wonderful writer with a way of sharing very hard and sometimes absurd and horrific details. All would-be hospital patients should read (and we are all would-be patients) his book. Praying for Restraint provides many lessons on how not to behave when a hospital patient and how to be appreciative of the people in difficult care giver roles. Allen Long could only stand this role for five years.

I wish Allen Long huge success with his eye-opening memoir.




  1. Crystal J Otto says

    Thank you Madeline for this review and for being part of the WOW! Women on Writing blog tour for Allen’s memoir. Big hugs to you dear friend!

  2. Allen Long says

    Madeline—Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful review of Praying for Restraint!

  3. Madeline–Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful review!

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