Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program for an honest review.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
I was on edge a good deal of the time while reading Just Mercy, much as I would be while reading a legal thriller, only these were accounts of actual people, actual trials, actual tragedies. Victims of wrongful condemnation. Incarcerated women and children abused behind prison walls. Racism, classism, and other -isms that feed off of insecurity, ignorance, fear.
Oh, I was previously aware, on a modest level, of the kind of inequities that Bryan Stevenson’s book brings to light concerning the nation’s criminal justice system, so there wasn’t anything particularly shocking here for me. But my conviction around humanity’s ongoing need for empathy and compassion was strengthened while reading through this compelling, and many times heartbreaking, narrative. It reaffirmed my belief that we have to look deeper, to listen more intently, to not be so quick to think that we’ve got the next individual all summed up, that we know his/her whole story–since, again and again, when we’re quick to assume “we know it all” already, it hinders us from actually listening and learning something. And, oftentimes, that something we’re missing could save our lives.
Stevenson’s work makes it quite clear that there’s so much more to be done to advance justice and mercy, which we all need. Yet, even incremental victories bring us closer to something better, and this book’s power is in its carrying and conveying the hope that better is indeed possible when we believe and work for it.
This should prove to be a timely narrative for millions of people. (Due for release on October 21, 2014.)
Note for my blog readers: not out of keeping with the nature of the subject matter, this book contains a minimal amount of profanity.