I love to read! Variety is the way I would describe my reading preferences, usually enjoying 5 books at a time, some hard copy, others on a Kindle device, still others as audible books mainly for listening in the car on long and short trips. Last year my Goodreads goal was 24 books and by 2019 year’s end, I had read and reviewed 54 books despite a very busy life outside of reading time. This year my goal for 34 is already ahead of schedule with two completed in the first two weeks of 2020.

My current read is so good, I wanted to share it here and hope it inspires you to both enjoy your own reading list, but to add this awesome but disturbing real-life story to your list:

WOW! This amazing book came by way of several strong recommendations and once begun reading (despite having 5 other books in the current process of reading), I couldn’t put it down. Now that is what happens when I receive a novel by my favorite author, Charles Martin, always finishing his new releases the day they get delivered, but that’s never happened with a non-fiction book like this one. Opened and read to its end, some 350 pages later, finished in just 2 days, my sign of an exceptional read!

As the title suggests, JUST MERCY: A Story of Justice and Redemption, is the author’s personal account of a career, no make that ‘his vocation’ or calling, as a lawyer offering probono legal service to first, prisoners on death row, and later expanding that to juveniles who have been sent to prison for life, that is ‘to die in prison’ with no chance for parole. The tragedies of our legal system come out in story after story of injustice focused on the poor and minorities that too often find themselves the victims of prejudice and even illegal treatment/trials when they are obviously innocent. The book reads like a murder mystery novel except these are real-life stories of people with no hope, some imprisoned for fifty and more years, when Bryan Stevenson and his team arrive, very overworked, offering hope and a listening ear. The legal system and police, lawyers and judges too often ignore new evidence and testimony with legal maneuvers protect the original sentencing despite obvious mishandling at the original sentencing.

This is a hard book to read in some respects, given the human injustice and long-time suffering of the victims in his stories, adults and underage prisoners in jail for life. But at the same time, there are stories of success, told in such heart wrenching human emotional narrative involving family and communities still supporting prisoners they know were not the murders they were judged to be. Its also a hard read because you, the reader, feel so helpless in seeing the background and inhumaine treatment endured by the innocent or incapacitated so helpless in the system before Bryan and his team take on case after case, many winning releases, but too often unable to turn the tide of the executions despite obvious evidence of their innocence.

Supported by 20 pages of notes and a complete index, this is a frustrating but very educational read that should be part of everyone’s eye-opening exposure to the injustices he shares. One is left with an empty feeling of wanting to do something, but not knowing how to help. In his final pages, the author does link us to the legal support organization and right now I am going to go there to, at the very least, along with promoting their work with this book review, see if I can make at some financial donation to help them give hope to the hopeless.