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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Us Against You

June 15, 2018

So much more than hockey…

Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman

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Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

Summary:

In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey.  After the rape incident in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand alone story; reading Beartown first is essential. Amazon Early Rating (June): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

A dedicated Backman fan, I’ve read all of his work. As a fan and reader, I appreciate his thought-provoking writing, his courage to take a creative risk, and his commitment to writing about important and difficult topics. I think he’s an exciting and provocative author worth reading even though your appreciation of his individual works may vary. He’s on my list of respected writers from whom I’ll automatically preorder a new work without considering reviews.

Us Against You is an emotional read and filled with pain and sadness. Backman’s writing ability, thought filled observations, and unique style moved me forward. The hope readers find in the story comes through individual determination and courage and in the community standing together to support, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and heal.

A professional reviewer (Green Valley News) refers to Backman as “the Charles Dickens of our age.” You might know that Dickens is a great English writer and social critic, and this comparison is an important consideration when reviewing Backman’s work. When looked at solely from this perspective, I would award Us Against You 5 stars.

When considering Beartown and Us Against You, I notice they have slightly different tones and Us Against You is more focused on social issues (similar to Dickens). Overall, Beartown is my favorite. The difference for me in the two stories is that in Beartown I felt immersed in the story and bonded with the characters as if I were a community member. Whereas in Us Against You, I felt like an observer. It seemed like Backman was asking me to analyze and form an opinion rather than participate in the story. Instead of the story capturing me and allowing me to draw my own conclusions, I was aware of Backman’s analysis of social issues. In place of investing in the story alongside the characters, I spent time pondering Backman’s statements and wondering to what extent I agreed or not. Like Dickens, his story is focused on social issues, and his points are important, thought-provoking, and promote engagement. Although my preference is for more story telling, Backman is a gifted writer and the story is filled with quotable passages such as these (I could have filled a journal):

“People always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”

“No one bows their heads around here, for the simple reason that many of our worst deeds are the result of never wanting to admit that we’re wrong. The greater the mistake and the worse the consequences, the more pride we stand to lose if we back down.”

“You become someone else’s property the first time you hear your child cry. You belong to that little person now. Before everything else. So when something happens to your child, it never stops being your fault.”

“A long marriage consists of such small things that when they get lost we don’t even know where to start looking for them….In the end the weight of carrying each other’s broken hearts becomes unbearable.”

Recommended for readers who have read Beartown and wouldn’t mind something grittier, darker, and sadder, for those who love sports and competition, for readers who like issue centered books, and for readers who appreciate thoughtful, excellent, and creative writing. If you have more questions after reading my review, please consider reading additional reviews before making your reading choice.

Alerts for locker room talk, homophobia, fighting and conflict, and references to suicide and rape.

My Rating: 4 Hockey Stars

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Us Against You

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick BackmanFredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. He has also written BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE in addition to the BEARTOWN books and a few novellas. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk or @backmansports.

*I’ve linked up today with Modern Mrs. Darcy: Quick Lit: June. If you’ve clicked over from there, Welcome! Thanks for stopping in!



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

“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



Links I Love:

This might be fun for summer: SnapShop Kids: Online Photography Class For Kids (and the entire family!)

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be reading and reviewing “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Mukata from my Summer TBR. By the way, I’m updating my Summer TBR with star ratings as I read titles (if you want to check my progress from time to time).

convenience store women

Amazon Information Here



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!

Are you a Fredrik Backman fan? Which of his works have you read?

What are you reading this week?



***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 photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s website.