Jennifer's books

Goodbye, Vitamin
American Fire: Love, Arson, and Life in a Vanishing Land
Mrs. Hemingway
Poetry Will Save Your Life: A Memoir
The Princess Diarist
Watch Me Disappear
Hello, Sunshine
Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success
A Man Called Ove
The Heirs
Our Souls at Night
White Fur
Confessions of a Domestic Failure
The Map That Leads to You
The Little French Bistro
Love the Wine You're With
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
The Party
New Boy

Jennifer Curry's favorite books »

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Book Review: Just Mercy

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

I recently had the privilege of reading the phenomenal nonfiction memoir Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It truly was a privilege. This book is eye-opening, heartbreaking, and powerful.

Just Mercy tells the story of Bryan Stevenson’s first years as a lawyer defending those on death row. In particular, it focuses on the plight of a wrongfully convicted man from Monroeville, Alabama. For those who think this town sounds familiar, it is the same town Harper Lee, acclaimed author of To Kill a Mockingbird lived and based her classic novel.

Like To Kill a Mockingbird, the man wrongfully convicted is black and his accusers are white. Racial dynamics are central because of his relationship with a white woman. However, in addition to racial discrimination, there is also government corruption and prison abuse.

Stevenson eloquently discusses the problems with our criminal justice system and the failings of our prisons. By providing an in-depth analysis, he presents information that the public often misses such as the number of children sentenced to life in prison and the statistics comparing the various races on death row. He also identifies the failings and lack of prison rehabilitation. He reminds readers of the number of those incarcerated that suffer from mental illness and drug/alcohol addiction.

When reading this book, I cried several times and wanted to discuss it at length my husband and friends because it is incredibly moving. I wanted to include one quote in this review that illustrates one of Stevenson’s main ideas, but the task was difficult because there is so much “good stuff” in the pages. Here is the one example I decided on:

“We’ve become so fearful and vengeful that we’ve thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and sanctioned the imprisonment of the sick and the weak – not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken. I thought of the victims of violent crimes and the survivors of murdered loved ones, and how we’ve pressured them to recycle their pain and anguish and give it back to the offenders we prosecute. I thought of the many ways we’ve legalized vengeful and cruel punishments, how we’ve allowed our victimization to justify the victimization of others. We’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible.” (Stevenson 290)

As soon as I started reading the introduction of Just Mercy, I told friends that it will probably be one of the best books I read this year. I was right. This book was illuminating and has forever changed my views. Good books teach us something, but the best books help us empathize with others. Just Mercy does both. 

For additional information, please visit:

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

No comments:

Post a Comment