By Bryan Stevenson
Spiegel & Grau, 9780812984965, August 2015, 368pp.
The Short of It:
Haven’t seen the movie yet but the book will be one that I remember for a long, long time.
The Rest of It:
A long time ago, I was listening to a podcast and one of the people being interviewed mentioned Just Mercy as a book she would never forget. I immediately made a note to read it and then decided to pitch it for my book club to discuss. But then there was a school shooting and the meeting had to be rescheduled. Sad, but true.
So it should come as no surprise that Just Mercy is scheduled for this month’s discussion, right smack in the middle of a pandemic. I knew enough about the book to know that the topic is a heavy one. Bryan Stevenson’s fight to address Capital Punishment and how it affects minorities, the poverty stricken, and even young children, did not seem like a topic I could handle during quarantine but I didn’t want to postpone the discussion again so I dug in.
Very glad I did.
This is a book that everyone needs to read. Young, old, in school, out of school. I was expecting a very depressing read but this memoir, to my surprise, was not depressing at all. I found it to be full of hope. Stevenson’s passion for his clients and the way he often went above and beyond what is expected of a lawyer lifted me up in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Honestly, Stevenson is a form of superhero I can get behind. He is the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and even that sounds formidable and it is.
His memoir covers many cases and challenges but centers around one particular client, Walter McMillan. McMillian had a solid alibi for his whereabouts the day a young woman was killed but it didn’t matter because the town needed a suspect and so the accusations stacked against Walter. How? Corruption, racism, people not wanting to be wrong.
When they say some people wear capes, I agree. Some do. Checkout Stevenson’s TED Talk and you’ll see what I mean.
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