Goodreads Review: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Five star review, originally posted here on December 21, 2020 during a mass-review of pandemic audiobooks.

[DISCLAIMER: I’m catching up on months worth of Audiobook reviews, so writing this quickly and belatedly.]

I’m not sure how much I can add to the discussions of this book, since everyone and their mother has read and loved this book. But I’ll go ahead and pile on. I’ve got a couple degrees in criminal justice, so I didn’t exactly learn anything new here. And yet, somehow, the fucked up state of our horribly racist justice system continues to shock. We need to keep telling and hearing these stories for as long as they exist, to keep outraged, and to push for change.

It’s been months, so at this point most of the details of this book have faded for me. But one scene that absolutely sticks with me is when Stevenson is sitting in his car outside his house listening to music. Cops arrive on scene (if I remember correctly, a neighbor called in about a suspicious black man) and start yelling at him, pointing weapons, etc. Stevenson was a Harvard-educated civil rights attorney who had done nothing wrong and who devoted his entire life to defending young black men who had done nothing wrong. But even he, in that moment, felt an urge to run in panic. This was a very telling scene to me. We hear about black people being scared or weary of the police, and yet, as a white lady, this is a fear that I can sympathize this but not relate to. Reading that even Stevenson was so scared in that moment that he was fighting the urge to do something that, in moments of clarity, he knew all too well could have resulting in his death, was a real eye-opener. This story, combined with the past several years of released bodycam, dashcam, and cellphone videos of police stops going wrong, really helps illustrate just how quickly and easily these interactions can turn lethal.

This was, of course, only one small piece of a much bigger work. I highly recommend every American read it.

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