Tag Archives: Spiegel and Grau

Review: Just Mercy

Just Mercy

Just Mercy
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.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Ghettoside

Ghettoside

Ghettoside
By Jill Leovy
Spiegel & Grau, Hardcover, 9780385529983, January 2015, 384pp.

The Short of It:

An interesting look at one particular murder case in Los Angeles and how black on black crimes have been challenging detectives for years.

The Rest of It:

Ghettoside is a police procedural which covers (mostly) the murder investigation of a Los Angeles detective’s black son, who was killed by another black man while walking down the street. Leovy delves into the history of black on black crime in Los Angeles and why the cycle of black violence continues.

Focusing on the investigation, we meet detectives who have chosen to work in South Central because they firmly believe that that is where the most improvement can be made. That, in itself, was refreshing.

This book has all sorts of fascinating statistics. Those of you who eat that stuff up will find this book a quick and interesting read. But it’s a tragic read as well. So many young lives lost and we are not talking about gang members. We are talking about young kids, 13 and 14 year-olds riding their bikes down the street or kids who happened to be wearing he wrong color that day. All of them black on black crimes which to this day puzzle law enforcement.

What can be done? One detective in particular goes out of his way to take that extra step with the hope of breaking the cycle and as a reader, you suddenly realize how overwhelmingly hopeless the situation must be. At the same time though, one life saved is still something, right? You can’t really put a price on that.

It’s a tough topic but an important one and even with all the stats I breezed through it. My book club discusses it later this week so we’ll see what they have to say about it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.