Black History Month: 10 Memorable Reads

February 7, 2020

10 Memorable Reads for Black History Month

10 Reading Ideas for Black History Month (image: right focus on a woman's hands reading a book sitting by water)

I hope you are inspired by reading ideas for Black History Month! Have you read any of these titles? Please add your recommendations in the comments.

Books are listed in no particular order. The title I selected are stories set in the U.S., but I’m adding a section for stories set in Africa, too! Not all of the titles are #ownvoices authors (I’ve noted the ones that are). Titles are Amazon affiliate links and you will find some links to reviews (some I read before I began the blog).

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Just Mercy cover

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Memoir, Nonfiction, Racial Tension, and Injustice). 4 Stars. My Full Review Here. #ownvoices
***Adapted for YA

The Water Dancer cover

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Literary Fiction, historical fiction, Slavery) 5 Stars. My Full Review Here. #ownvoices

The Invention of Wings cover

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (historical fiction, abolitionist movement)
A favorite read over the past several years. 5 Stars. My Full Review Here.

Homegoing cover

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (historical fiction, family multi-generational saga)
This book is ambitious in its structure and memorable in its storytelling….it hasn’t received enough attention! Although it begins in Africa, it ends in the U.S. 5 Stars. #ownvoices

The Warmth of Other Suns cover

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (a combination of history and narrative nonfiction). An ambitious history of black migration across the U.S. from post Civil War to the 1970s. 4 Stars (heavy on history….the three personal stories are memorable and heartfelt). #ownvoices

The Hate U Give cover

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (contemporary fiction, racial tensions, YA)
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement. 5 Stars. My Full Review Here. #ownvoices

The Kitchen House cover

Glory Over Everything cover

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (historical fiction, slavery) and the sequel Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom  (historical fiction, passing as white). Both 5 Stars.

Small Great Things cover

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (contemporary fiction, racial tension). 4 Stars. Brief Review in This Post Here.

Dreamland Burning cover

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (historical fiction, YA). 5 Stars. Brief Review in This Post Here.


Runners Up:

The Mothers cover

The Mothers by Brit Bennett  4 Stars. My Brief Goodreads Review Here. #ownvoices

The Gilded Years cover

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (historical fiction, biographical, first black woman to attend Vassar). 4 Stars. My Full Review Here.

An American Marriage Cover

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Women’s Fiction, Family Life). 4.5 Stars. My Full Review Here. #ownvoices


Also Recommended:
Stories Set in Africa

Hum if You Don't Know the Words by Bianca Marais (cover)

Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais (histfic). 4. Stars. Full Review Here.

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (cover)

If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (histfic). 4 Stars. My Full Review Here.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (cover)

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare (contemporary fiction). 5 Stars. (I love this one….review coming) #0wnvoices


Middle Grade Recommendations

We Beat the Street cover

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis  (middle grade, biography/memoir). 4 Stars. #ownvoices

Stella by Starlight cover

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M Draper (middle grade historical fiction, racial tension). 4 Stars.

Brown Girl Dreaming cover

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (middle grade childhood memoir) 5 Stars. My Full Review Here. #ownvoices

Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (cover)

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (MG histfic, slavery)


February Read:

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (cover)

Born a Crime (memoir) by Trevor Noah #ownvoices



QOTD!

Did you find a book to add to your TBR?

What are you reading for Black History Month?

Share your own recommendations in comments!



ICYMI

Winter 2019 TBR (update)

My Love/Hate Relationship With DNF

Trigger Warnings: Yes or No?

How I Use Goodreads

Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Just Mercy Review: In Honor of MLK Jr and His Work

January 20, 2020

I've decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. ~MLK

Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) and his work, I’m reposting an updated review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson from my September 14, 2018 post…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.



September 14, 2018

An inspirational memoir of courage ….. determination ….. vision …..

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, African-American, Judicial System, Criminal Procedure, Politics and Social Science

Summary:

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

In this compelling and engaging memoir, Bryan Stevenson shares true stories about founding the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice established to defend those most desperate and in need (the underrepresented, poor, wrongly condemned, women, and youth trapped for life in the criminal justice system). In addition to detailing his experience as a young lawyer confronting political machines, fighting prejudice, and accepting challenging cases, Stevenson works determinedly and thinks deeply about mercy, true justice, and compassion.

Listen to Bryan Stevenson summarize his ideas in his own words: Bryan Stevenson TED Talk

Just Mercy Movie Trailer

Amazon Rating (September): 4.8

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Sixth Candle: The Extra Sense #eightcandlebooktag

December 27, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Sixth Candle–The Extra Sense

#eightcandlebooktag

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here, fifth here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1 candle

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1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Sixth Candle: The Extra Sense

A book that scared you, worried you, or that was edgy or spooky in some way (doesn’t have to be a paranormal book).

Well…you’ll notice a dearth of reviews for scary, spooky thrillers on my blog! It doesn’t take too much to scare me or provoke a bad dream. Usually if something is scary, spooky, or too thrilling, it gets shelved without hesitation as a DNF. I think I’m classified as a HSP (highly sensitive person) in my reading life! So today’s prompt stumps me!

Since I haven’t read any really scary books, I finally considered other books that disturb me in some way and make me uncomfortable while reading. I read a great deal of WW11 histfic, so some of the concentration camp passages are highly disturbing. A couple of examples of some of the most difficult “concentration camp” passages I’ve read include books like The Lilac Girls, Between Shades of Gray, and The Nightingale. Often, books that describe the unfortunate plight of innocent children are quite difficult to read. Examples include Before We Were Yours and Orphan Train.

However, for this prompt I decided to go another direction with a book that is uncomfortable or disturbing to read and that is Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. I found that the chapters that focused on Turk and his racism and white supremacy especially difficult to read. I remember having feelings of dread every time his chapter came up, and wishing I could skip them.

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight Small Great Things

  small great things

The following brief overview has been published previously on this blog:

Amazon Summary:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My Thoughts:

This is an important and memorable read; however, it was difficult for me to rate. First, I would award it 4 stars for being a page turner and for the focus on an important issue. At the same time, I would rate it 3 stars for the author’s overly pedantic tone (for my preference), one-sided political insults, and the too convenient plot twists at the end. Overall, that would average out to a 3.5 star rating. On Goodreads, I rounded that up to 4 stars. This rating comes with a word of caution that the author was heavy handed in her message and her political comments….it seems that most of her fans might already be aware that her stories are sometimes controversial because of their polarizing themes.

I’m conflicted as I write this because it’s an important issue and message, but at times it felt like a lecture and a political attack. In the end, I admire her bravery at tackling this important and sensitive issue. The chapters involving Turk, the white supremacist, were especially difficult to read because they were filled with hate.

Without hesitation, though, I recommend this book for readers who enjoy controversial and current topics, for nurses and legal professionals, and for those readers who want to form their own opinions on trending new releases and relevant topics. Small Great Things would make a terrific selection for a book club discussion. Plus, if you’re a huge Jodi Picoult fan you might not want to miss this story with its ambitious themes.

My Rating: 4 stars

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small great things

Small Great Things Information

Meet the Author, Jodi Picoult

Jodi PicoultJodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers “The Storyteller,” “Lone Wolf,” “Between the Lines,” “Sing You Home,” “House Rules,” “Handle with Care,” “Change of Heart,” “Nineteen Minutes,” and “My Sister’s Keeper.” She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children. Read more at http://www.jodipicoult.com/



QOTD!

Have you read Small Great Things or is it on your TBR?

Are you a Jodi Picoult fan?



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Bookish Themed Hanukkah: First Candle: All Alone #eightcandlebooktag

December 22, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: First Candle–All Alone

#eightcandlebooktag

 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today and for the next seven days with The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us!

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!

8th-candle

 

1-candle.jpg

First Candle: All Alone

A book you love, but one that no one else seems to know anything about.

One book that comes to mind for today’s topic is The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe. Have you heard of it? I loved it when I read it, but I don’t know anyone else who has read it. Let me know in the comments!

The Gilded Years

Summary:

The Gilded Years shares the important and compelling experiences of Anita Hemmings and her dream of attending an exclusive school for women, Vassar College, in the late 1890s. To accomplish this extraordinary feat and pursue her chance for a better life, Anita must pass for white. It is interesting to me how her family and community support her in the implementation of her decision and work to protect her as she lives it out. At first, Anita maintains a distance from her college peers. However, as the years pass and Anita becomes friends with her socialite roommate from a prominent family in New York, the risk of discovery grows greater. Can she maintain her assumed identify? Will she graduate?

The choice:

For me, the most interesting part of The Gilded Years is the tension that develops between Anita and one of her dear friends who decides to live fully as an African-American, embrace her ethnic identity and heritage, and openly fight for equal rights. Which one of the young women chose the best path? Both decisions are difficult in their own ways and filled with sacrifices and joys. Through their two stories, the reader is presented with two viewpoints and experiences. What would you or I have done given that choice? Which choice helped further equal treatment for African-Americans? Was Anita’s choice a set back for African Americans? Or did she have every right to think of her own life first? Did her success as a student help the African-American cause by proving that an African-American can compete equally at Vassar?

Bottom Line:

Although The Gilded Years is compelling and emotional, the writing could be stronger. For me, a captivating story that addresses strong themes of hope, sacrifice, betrayal, loyalty, family, taking risks, life choices, and friendship makes for a memorable, important, and inspiring read. It would generate an excellent book club discussion and make a great movie!

Recommended?

I highly recommend The Gilded Years for readers looking for an inspirational and interesting read in anticipation of February’s African-American History Month, for readers who enjoy compelling stories about strong, brave, independent women, for book clubs, and for readers who enjoy diverse reads and stories written from a different perspective.

Amazon Rating (December): 4.2 Stars

My Rating: 4 stars

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The Gilded Years

The Gilded Years Information

Meet the Author, Karin Tanabe

Karen TanabeKarin Tanabe is a fiction writer and former Politico reporter whose writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, and The Washington Post among many other publications. Before turning to fiction, Karin worked as a journalist covering politics and celebrities. She has made frequent appearances on Entertainment Tonight, Inside Edition and CNN. A graduate of Vassar College, she lives in Washington D.C.



QOTD!

Have you heard of this book?

Have you read The Gilded Years



ICYMI

I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Water Dancer: A Review

October 17, 2019

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Water Dancer review.jpg

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism, African-American, Slavery, Underground Railroad

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Water Dancer tells the engaging and powerful story of Hiram Walker who is born into slavery and who has a mysterious and magical power. He is compelled to leave his home and adopted mother as he follows his rebellious spirit and searches for freedom. Hiram connects with the Underground Railroad, masters his mysterious power, and seeks to return home on his own terms to rescue his adopted mother and his love interest.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

(more…)

On The Come Up: A Review

June 6, 2019

On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

On the Come Up Review

Genre/Categories: Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Homelessness, Poverty, Family Life, YA Music, Racism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The daughter of a Garden Heights rap legend, sixteen-year-old Bri’s greatest desires include making it as a rapper, making enough money to take care of her mom and siblings, and moving out of the neighborhood. Bri is distracted at school by her rapping goals and neighborhood performances. At home, her mom has lost her job and the family is facing unpaid bills, shut off notices, an empty refrigerator, and the threat of homelessness. Suddenly, Bri not only wants to make it as a rapper, now she has to make it. Bri makes some impulsive decisions as she fights to make her dreams a reality. This is a story about fighting for your dreams against the odds as it portrays the realities of poor and working-class black families. Author Angie Thomas has experience in the art of rapping and her authentic voice fills all the spaces in this realistic story with vivid details of the Garden Heights community and its memorable characters. Although the story takes place in the same community and makes a reference to the shooting at the center of The Hate You Give, this is not a sequel to THUG and can be read as a stand-alone. Each book is a unique reading experience.

My Thoughts:

(more…)

Brown Girl Dreaming: A Review

April 10, 2019

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming Review

  • Genre/Categories: Non Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Middle Grade, Racism, Prejudice, African-American, Family Life

*This post contains amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

In free verse, Jaqueline Woodson shares her experience as an African-American growing up in South Carolina and New York during the 60s and 70s. An award-winning book, Brown Girl Dreaming is a poignant and inspiring story of a girl finding her voice and her place in the world. Even though she struggled with reading in childhood, she loved stories and blank writing paper as she held her dream of writing close to her heart.

(more…)

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls: A Review

March 25, 2019

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, African-American Literature, Mothers/Daughters, Sisters, Family Life

Summary:

The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls shares the compelling and multilayered story of the three Butler sisters: Althea, Viola, and Lillian. Althea was a teenager when her mother died and the children were faced with living with their unstable and often absent father. As the oldest, Althea shouldered the burden of caring for her younger siblings. As adults, they each deal with their traumatic childhood in different ways. To the shock of the community, Althea and her husband face some serious criminal charges and years in prison. Viola and Lillian rally to care for Althea’s children. The story is told from three perspectives as we learn more about the family secrets and childhood trauma.

(more…)

Black History Month: 10 Reading Ideas

February 4, 2019

10 Reading Ideas for Black History Month

black history month

Image from Canva

I hope you are inspired by reading ideas for Black History Month! Have you read any of these titles? Please add your recommendations in the comments.

Books are listed in no particular order. Titles are Amazon affiliate links and you will find some links to reviews (most I read before I began the blog). *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

just mercy

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson (Memoir, Non Fiction, Racial Tension and Injustice). 4 Stars. Full Review Here.

Invention of Wings

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (historical fiction, abolitionist movement)
A favorite read over the past several years. 5 Stars. Review Here.

Homegoing

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (historical fiction, family multi generational saga)
This book is ambitious in its structure and memorable in its story telling….it hasn’t received enough attention! 5 Stars.

The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (combination of history and narrative nonfiction). Ambitious history of black migration across the U.S. from post Civil War to the 1970s. 4 Stars (heavy on history….the three personal stories are memorable and heartfelt). A must read.

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (contemporary fiction, racial tensions, YA)
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement. 5 Stars. Full Review Here.

The Kitchen House

Glory Over Everything

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (historical fiction, slavery) and the sequel Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom  (historical fiction, passing as white). Both 5 Stars.

small great things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (contemporary fiction, racial tension). 4 Stars. Brief Review in This Post Here.

An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (Women’s Fiction, Family Life). 4.5 Stars. Full Review Here.

dreamland burning

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham (historical fiction, YA). 5 Stars. Brief Review in This Post Here.

Stella by Starlight

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M Draper (middle grade historical fiction, racial tension). 4 Stars.


Runners Up:

The Mothers

The Mothers by Brit Bennett  4 Stars. My Brief Goodreads Review Here.

The Gilded Years

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe (historical fiction, biographical, first black woman to attend Vassar). 4 Stars. Review Here.

We Beat the Street

We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success by Sampson Davis  (middle grade, biography/memoir). 4 Stars.



Did you find a book to add to your TBR?

Share your own recommendations in comments!



 

Just Mercy Review: In Honor of MLK Jr and His Work

*this post contains affiliate links

January 21, 2019

Today, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr (MLK) and his work, I’m reposting a review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson from my September 14, 2018 post …..



September 14, 2018

An inspirational memoir of courage ….. determination ….. vision …..

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

just mercy 2

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Memoir, African-American, Judicial System, Criminal Procedure, Politics and Social Sciences

Summary:

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times • The Washington Post • The Boston Globe • The Seattle Times • Esquire • Time

In this compelling and engaging memoir, Bryan Stevenson shares true stories about founding the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice established to defend those most desperate and in need (the underrepresented, poor, wrongly condemned, women, and youth trapped for life in the criminal justice system). In addition to detailing his experience as a young lawyer confronting political machines, fighting prejudice, and accepting challenging cases, Stevenson works determinedly and thinks deeply about mercy, true justice, and compassion.

Listen to Bryan Stevenson summarize his ideas in his own words: Bryan Stevenson Ted Talk

Just Mercy movie: filming in Montgomery.

Amazon Rating (September): 4.8

My Thoughts:

Compelling. Just Mercy is a compelling and engaging read in that it’s inspirational to read about real people and their life work. Even though some of the legal jargon and proceedings are unfamiliar to me, I am mesmerized by the overall story of Bryan Stevenson and his lifelong passion for championing the legal defense of the most underrepresented and most desperate prisoners. Despite great personal hardship, he persisted.

Controversial. Some readers might feel they need to agree with everything an author writes to read the work. Sometimes, I feel that way if it’s a topic that I have strong feelings about and am committed to my position. Other times, as in this case, it’s thought-provoking to see issues from an involved person’s perspective (especially from an authentic voice) and to consider issues that don’t usually affect my life.

Memorable. I have the highest admiration for Bryan Stevenson and others like him who have sacrificed and served in areas in which I’m incapable of affecting change. The only thing I can do from the sidelines is to listen and support. Sometimes when I read, the experience is like looking into a mirror and other times it’s like looking through a window.  This is a definite window read for me. I’m here to learn.

Thoughtful Quote. Although a difficult read on many levels, Just Mercy is one of those books I can say I’m glad I’ve read. I appreciate the focus on children who commit crimes (not to excuse them but to bring compassion and understanding into the situation):

“When these basic deficits that burden all children are combined with the environments that some poor children experience–environments marked by abuse, violence, dysfunction, neglect, and the absence of a loving caretaker–adolescence can leave kids vulnerable to the sort of extremely poor decision making that results in violence.”

As a teacher, this quote reminds me of how important mental health services and intervention programs are to all school children (especially starting with elementary aged children).

Recommended. Even though Just Mercy has been on the best seller list for a couple of years, it’s a worthy read I’m urging you not to miss. Recommended for readers who are interested in social justice, for those serving in legal or social services professions, for readers who enjoy books about current issues (such as incarceration rates of African-American youth, the death penalty, etc.), and for all who are challenged by reading issue-centered books about thought-provoking topics from an insider’s perspective and an authentic voice. Bryan Stevenson is someone I’d like you to meet because he is an influential, courageous, inspirational, determined, and visionary person that will be celebrated, respected, and honored for years to come.

Your Voice. I’d like to invite reviewers to leave a review link for Just Mercy in the comments if you are a POC or Own Voices reviewer.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Just Mercy

Meet the Author, Bryan Stevenson

bryan stevensonBryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.

Bryan Stevenson Ted Talk

Just Mercy movie in the works

Bryan Stevenson Wikipedia