Review: Just Mercy

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 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 I love to read about real people and their life work. Even though some of the legal jargon and proceedings went over my head, I was 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 cheer him on.

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 appreciated 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 enjoy 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.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Buy Here

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



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“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



My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read all but three on the list, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)



Looking Ahead:

This week I’m reading two ARCs (advanced reader copies) of The Lieutenant’s Nurse by Sara Ackerman and Virgil Wander by Leif Enger (author of Peace Like a River). I’m planning an extra blog post soon highlighting three recently read ARCS.

lieutenant's nurse

virgil wander



A Link I Love

Are you a fan of the Enneagram types or Winnie the Pooh? Check out this post that explores the Enneagram type of each character in the Hundred Acre Wood:  Kendra Nicole: My World In Reviews: The Enneagram in the Hundred Acre Wood.



Sharing is Caring

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



 Let’s Discuss

Do you enjoy issue-centered, thought-provoking memoirs? Have you read Just Mercy?
(kind and considerate comments are appreciated….others will be deleted or not approved)

Are you looking ahead to fall reading? I have quite a fall TBR list that I’m eager to share with you next Tuesday for Top Ten Tuesday!



***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. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

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.

 

 

 

 

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Killers of the Flower Moon

February 9, 2018

true crime….cruel and incomprehensible racial injustice…greed…

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann

Killers of the Flower Moon

Genre/categories: Nonfiction, True Crime, Native American, U.S. History, Racial Injustice, Osage

Summary:

This is a true crime murder mystery involving the wealthy Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920s. After oil was discovered beneath the wasteland that they had been forced to live on, the Osage became extremely rich. However, one by one, members of the Osage began to die under suspicious circumstances, or as some believed to be killed off. To introduce readers to this community and the crime, the author closely follows the story of Mollie Burkhart and her family.  It was dangerous to investigate the murders because investigators could also die under mysterious circumstances. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly formed F.B.I. took up the case.  The F.B.I also experienced difficulty in the investigation until J. Edgar Hoover enlisted Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to form an undercover team  to unravel the mystery. White’s team (which included a Native American) infiltrated the region and employed the latest modern techniques of investigation. This story tells whether or not they were able to expose one of the most monstrous and heinous crimes in American history.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER   –  NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST  –  AMAZON EDITORS’ PICK FOR THE BEST BOOK OF 2017   –  GOODREADS RUNNER UP IN BEST HISTORY/BIOGRAPHY CATEGORY FOR 2017

Amazon Rating (February): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

Structure: True crime isn’t my preferred genre and this book is dense with detail;  however, I found the true account compelling overall and especially as I focused on the fascinating character of Tom White, an unsung hero. The story is structured in three parts: first, we are introduced to Mollie Burkhart and readers become acquainted with her inheritance and wealth, her family, the crimes, and the principal players in the community; second, we follow the F.B.I.’s attempts in the investigation, we learn about the intrigue and corruption, and in particular we meet F.B.I. agent Tom White;  last, the story ends from a reporter’s perspective (Grann’s)  as he attempts additional research and demonstrates that the crime that White uncovered was really just the tip of the iceberg.  Least one assume that Tom White is merely a “white savior” as some reviewers have mentioned, Grann makes it clear that the combination of  widespread corruption and the powerless Osage required a white person to take on the white system.

Unforgettable Character: In particular, I enjoyed the exploration into the character of Tom White. For taking on an extremely high-profile and dangerous assignment, he was rather soft-spoken, nonviolent, fair, trustworthy, and humble. His good character is in stark contrast to the character traits of the corrupt community authorities. Bravely and courageously, he conducted a most difficult investigation, one that would greatly enhance the reputation of the F.B.I. if solved. Later in White’s career when he was the head of the prison that took in the prisoners that were convicted in the Osage murders, he shook their hands and welcomed them to the prison and insisted that they be treated fairly.  In addition, when the person who murdered his own brother was admitted to the prison, White never mentioned his presence to anyone. White wanted every prisoner to be treated equally and fairly. A humble man who didn’t seek the limelight, it is unfortunate that White was never properly recognized publicly for the important contributions he made to the Osage case.

Voice: It’s unfortunate that the white culture hasn’t listened to or heard the Osage Nation, and credit is given to David Grann for hearing their voice and telling this well researched story that documents the crimes against the Osage and includes interviews with many in the Osage community. I wish that we could have heard the story entirely from an authentic Osage voice. I think if the Osage could tell their own story, it would help move them out of a powerless position.

Reading Tip: My husband experienced reading this on audible and found the second narrator the most compelling and enjoyable of the three. He wished the entire story had been told by this second narrator. So if you purchase this through audible and are not enthralled with the first narrator, the second is much better.

Recommended. Highly recommended for readers who love the true crime genre, for readers who want to further explore the topic of racial injustice as it affects Native Americans, for those who enjoy reading about historical events, and for readers who are looking for a compelling, thought provoking read.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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Killers of the Flower Moon

Buy Here

Meet the Author, David Grann

David GrannDAVID GRANN is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning staff writer at The New Yorker magazine. His latest book, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, was released in April. Based on years of research, it explores one of the most sinister crimes and racial injustices in American history.

His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, became a #1 New York Times bestseller and has been translated into more than twenty-five languages. Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize, the book was chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by the New York Times, the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, Bloomberg, Publishers Weekly, and the Christian Science Monitor, and it also won the Indies Choice award for the best nonfiction book of that year.

The Lost City of Z has been adapted into a major motion picture, which will be released in theaters in April 2017. Produced by Brad Pitt’s production company, the film is directed by James Gray and stars Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller, Robert Pattinson, and Tom Holland.

Grann’s other book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, contains many of his New Yorker stories, and was named by Men’s Journal one of the best true crime books ever written. The stories in the collection focus on everything from the mysterious death of the world’s greatest Sherlock Holmes expert to a Polish writer who might have left clues to a real murder in his postmodern novel. Another piece, “Trial by Fire,” exposed how junk science led to the execution of a likely innocent man in Texas. The story received a George Polk award for outstanding journalism and a Silver Gavel award for fostering the public’s understanding of the justice system.His stories have also been a source of material for feature films. “Old Man and the Gun”—which is in The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, and is about an aging stick-up man and prison escape artist—is slated to be directed by David Lowery and to star Robert Redford.

Over the years, Grann’s stories have appeared in The Best American Crime Writing; The Best American Sports Writing; and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He has previously written for the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.

Before joining The New Yorker in 2003, Grann was a senior editor at The New Republic, and, from 1995 until 1996, the executive editor of the newspaper The Hill. He holds master’s degrees in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy as well as in creative writing from Boston University. After graduating from Connecticut College in 1989, he received a Thomas Watson Fellowship and did research in Mexico, where he began his career in journalism.

 



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“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



Looking Ahead:

I’m planning a review of this ARC (advanced reader’s copy) next week:

A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety
by Michelle Balge

A Way Out

Amazon information here (2/27/19 release date)

I’m continuing to read Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser (from my 2018 TBR).

Prairie Fires

Amazon information here



My TBR and the BUZZ

I’m noticing lots of buzz (great reviews) lately about three books (all Book of the Month Club selections): The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (author of The Nightingale), and As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner. I’m adding them to the top of my TBR, so look for reviews soon!

Do you belong to Book of the Month Club?

I also just heard that Louise Penny (Inspector Gamache series) will be releasing a new installment in November of this year! (no title or cover yet)
#meetmeinthreepines #threepinesgeek
available for preorder

What are you reading this week?



Links

Modern Mrs Darcy published a list of  25 Must-Read Classics for Women.
How many have you read?

If you’re looking for Christian fiction, check out this post from The Caffeinated Bibliophile: Eight Christian Romance Books to Read for Valentine’s Day.

There’s still time to read or reread Wrinkle in Time before the movie release on March 9.
Will you be seeing the movie?



Sharing is Caring

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Had you ever heard of the crimes against the Osage before you read this review?

Do you keep a balance between fiction and nonfiction in your reading life? Is the balance 50-50 or do you read more of one than the other? Which do you prefer that I review?

What are you reading this week?