Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice (Paperback)
November 2014 Indie Next List
“The history of incarceration in America is deeply colored by our history of racism and poverty. Stevenson's work providing legal aid to death row inmates exposes truly inhumane, unjust practices and astonishing legal carelessness often fueled by outright prejudice. Just Mercy does not stop at reportage, but examines the costs to the individual, the family, the community, and society at large of these practices. This is a powerful book about one man's efforts to address injustice and a clarion call for reform not just for those imprisoned, but for a society that has lost its way.”
— Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
BRYAN STEVENSON is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, a private, nonprofit human rights organization, helping the poor, the incarcerated, the condemned, and children, he is also professor of law at New York University School of Law and received the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.
In his provocative book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” Stevenson declares that without equal justice in our country, we cannot have equality. The book opens when Stevenson agrees to take on the case of Walter McMillan a black man on death row 15 months before his case goes to trial. Strike one for equal justice. Stevenson is contacted by the judge and told not to take the case. Strike two.
Strike three is when Stevenson scratches the surface of evidence and finds overwhelming evidence of Walter’s innocence, including dozens of witness who were with Walter 11 miles away from the crime scene at the time of the murder.
Stevenson’s work on other cases involving death row sentences—often given to innocent people or children tried as adults—are interspersed in the longer narrative of Walter McMillan’s abhorrent treatment, in Monroeville, Alabama where Atticus Finch graces the town square, by a system that presumes innocence.
With prison populations at unprecedented levels and dozens of inmates falsely accused on death row, this timely book has the driving narrative of a Michael Connelly crime novel. And like Connelly's books, "Just Mercy" will change the way you read the headlines and see the world.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW.
— Sarah Bagby
In this very personal work--adapted from the original #1 bestseller, which the New York Times calls "as compelling as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so"--renowned lawyer and social justice advocate Bryan Stevenson offers a glimpse into the lives of the wrongfully imprisoned and his efforts to fight for their freedom as the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative.
Stevenson's story is one of working to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society--the poor, the wrongly convicted, and those whose lives have been marked by discrimination and marginalization. Through this adaptation, young people of today will find themselves called to action and compassion in the pursuit of justice.
A portion of the proceeds of this book will go to charity to help in Stevenson's important work to benefit the voiceless and the vulnerable as they attempt to navigate the broken U.S. justice system.
A KIRKUS REVIEWS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A BOOKLIST EDITORS' CHOICE
FEATURED ON CBS THIS MORNING
A NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
PRAISE FOR JUST MERCY: A TRUE STORY OF THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE:
"It's really exciting that young people are getting a version tailored for them." --Salon
"A deeply moving collage of true stories. . . . This is required reading." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Compassionate and compelling, Stevenson's narrative is also unforgettable." --Booklist, starred review
PRAISE FOR JUST MERCY: A STORY OF JUSTICE AND REDEMPTION:
"Gripping. . . . What hangs in the balance is nothing less than the soul of a great nation." --DESMOND TUTU, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
"Important and compelling." --Pulitzer Prize-winning author TRACY KIDDER
"Inspiring and powerful." --#1 New York Times bestselling author JOHN GRISHAM
“Just Mercy is every bit as moving as To Kill a Mockingbird, and in some ways more so. . . . [It] demonstrates, as powerfully as any book on criminal justice that I’ve ever read, the extent to which brutality, unfairness, and racial bias continue to infect criminal law in the United States. But at the same time that [Bryan] Stevenson tells an utterly damning story of deep-seated and widespread injustice, he also recounts instances of human compassion, understanding, mercy, and justice that offer hope. . . . Just Mercy is a remarkable amalgam, at once a searing indictment of American criminal justice and a stirring testament to the salvation that fighting for the vulnerable sometimes yields.”—David Cole, The New York Review of Books
“A searing, moving and infuriating memoir . . . Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both. . . . Injustice is easy not to notice when it affects people different from ourselves; that helps explain the obliviousness of our own generation to inequity today. We need to wake up. And that is why we need a Mandela in this country.”—Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times
“Unfairness in the justice system is a major theme of our age. . . . This book brings new life to the story by placing it in two affecting contexts: [Bryan] Stevenson’s life work and the deep strain of racial injustice in American life. . . . You don’t have to read too long to start cheering for this man. Against tremendous odds, Stevenson has worked to free scores of people from wrongful or excessive punishment, arguing five times before the Supreme Court. . . . The book extols not his nobility but that of the cause, and reads like a call to action for all that remains to be done. . . . The message of the book, hammered home by dramatic examples of one man’s refusal to sit quietly and countenance horror, is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made. Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful. . . . Stevenson has been angry about [the criminal justice system] for years, and we are all the better for it.”—Ted Conover, The New York Times Book Review
“Inspiring . . . a work of style, substance and clarity . . . Stevenson is not only a great lawyer, he’s also a gifted writer and storyteller.”—The Washington Post
“As deeply moving, poignant and powerful a book as has been, and maybe ever can be, written about the death penalty.”—The Financial Times
“Brilliant.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Not since Atticus Finch has a fearless and committed lawyer made such a difference in the American South. Though larger than life, Atticus exists only in fiction. Bryan Stevenson, however, is very much alive and doing God’s work fighting for the poor, the oppressed, the voiceless, the vulnerable, the outcast, and those with no hope. Just Mercy is his inspiring and powerful story.”—John Grisham
“Bryan Stevenson is one of my personal heroes, perhaps the most inspiring and influential crusader for justice alive today, and Just Mercy is extraordinary. The stories told within these pages hold the potential to transform what we think we mean when we talk about justice.”—Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow
“A distinguished NYU law professor and MacArthur grant recipient offers the compelling story of the legal practice he founded to protect the rights of people on the margins of American society. . . . Emotionally profound, necessary reading.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review, Kirkus Prize Finalist)
“A passionate account of the ways our nation thwarts justice and inhumanely punishes the poor and disadvantaged.”—Booklist (starred review)
“From the frontlines of social justice comes one of the most urgent voices of our era. Bryan Stevenson is a real-life, modern-day Atticus Finch who, through his work in redeeming innocent people condemned to death, has sought to redeem the country itself. This is a book of great power and courage. It is inspiring and suspenseful—a revelation.”—Isabel Wilkerson, author of The Warmth of Other Suns
“Words such as important and compelling may have lost their force through overuse, but reading this book will restore their meaning, along with one’s hopes for humanity.”—Tracy Kidder, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Mountains Beyond Mountains
“Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all. Just Mercy should be read by people of conscience in every civilized country in the world to discover what happens when revenge and retribution replace justice and mercy. It is as gripping to read as any legal thriller, and what hangs in the balance is nothing less than the soul of a great nation.”—Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate