Monday, August 7, 2017

Just Mercy - Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy
Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
Author: Bryan Stevenson
Publication Date: 10/21/2014
Pages: 336
Genre: Memoir / Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: Kevin's worked gave it to all the employees to read.
Date Completed: 7/5/17

Summary: Stevenson has spent his career advocating for death row inmates in the Deep South. In this book, he reflects on specific cases from throughout his career and the systemic discrimination in our justice system.

What I Thought: This book is so powerful. Let me state up front that I recommend you read it. Racial divisions in our country seem to be an eternal problem and, as a white person, my privilege can make it easy to look away. We must not do that. Stevenson opens the door to the stories and lives of death row inmates in Alabama and other southern states. They are stories of broken hearts and broken lives. And, if you are like me, they will make you want to join Stevenson in the fight for a more just justice system.

Honestly, I could go into details about the cases Stevenson discusses. Or I could talk about the systemic racism he has continually faced in his career personally and on behalf of his clients. Or I could evaluate Stevenson's wonderful ability to evoke empathy from his readers and share heavy legal details in an accessible, personable way. Or I could spend time discussing a bunch of other things upon which this book touches. I don't really want to, though. I want to let Stevenson speak for himself. This is one of those instances where I think turning the mic over to people of color or whatever group is being marginalized is important. I don't have any experience with the prison system, death sentences, or miscarriages of justice. I'm thankful for that and I want to work so that everyone in our country has an equal chance to say the same. In the meantime, though, I want to let those fighting these battles tell their own stories. All I can do is recommend you take the time to listen to them. 

I read this book because the university where Kevin works gave copies to everyone on their staff last year. I am so thankful they did. Just because we are not experiencing suffering personally does not mean we should not act to mitigate it for others. You can start by reading about what's going on. It's a really good place to begin. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Yes
If You Liked This, Try: Strangers in Their Own Land White Trash Half the Sky

A Reduced Review: This book is a powerful look at what justice means in our country, particularly for those sentenced to death in the South. 

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