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Just Mercy

By Bryan Stevenson

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Book review written by Secondary School Library Manager, Margie Broughton

In 1985, Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer, moved to Montgomery, Alabama to provide legal assistance to people on death row. Thus began his life’s work: fighting for the rights of wrongly convicted prisoners on death row, and for other people trapped in a criminal justice system that is often unjust. This memoir tells that story.  

This is a powerful and inspiring book. I rarely read a book about a real present-day “hero”, and I would be very comfortable calling Bryan Stevenson a hero. He started from scratch and has built a non-profit, the Equal Justice Initiative, that has worked tirelessly (and effectively) to redress the injustices of the criminal justice system in America, especially as they relate to race and poverty. Stevenson recounts cases he has represented and situations he has been in; the accumulation of these stories paints a picture of a criminal justice system gone awry. I sometimes couldn’t follow the intricacies of the legal process, but that ultimately didn’t matter to the experience of reading the book. 

This book would appeal to anyone who is interested in issues of justice and inequality, not only in America, and to anyone who wants to read about an ordinary person who, with long-term persistence and courage, is making a massive difference. 

Stevenson, B. (2014). Just Mercy.

Book review written by Secondary School Library Manager, Margie Broughton