Guest Book Review: Just Mercy

One thing I love just as much as telling people about the books I love, is hearing from people about the books they love. As the Gracepoint Church Librarian, I have the delightful experience of receiving emails and texts, or having that quick hallway conversation about about this or that book someone just finished and loved.

But be forewarned: when you tell me about a book you love, I might hound you to write up a little review! But it’s in the service of fostering the love of reading across all of our Gracepoint Ministries and beyond, so it’s all good, right? I hope to feature these guest reviews on a semi-regular basis.

The following is a review by Michael Kim, for one of his favorite books:

At times I meet people — young people especially — that express difficulty in reading regularly. Reading is obviously less sensually dynamic than media, and it undoubtedly requires greater mental discipline than many other activities. I find it particularly challenging to read while tired. That being said, God relates to us through the Bible — this alone should be enough for all of us to strive for becoming better readers.

As a wise man once said when asked of his grandest wishes for his newborn daughter, “I just want her to follow Jesus and read well.”

just mercy

All this to say, Just Mercy is a phenomenal book. It is a book that I often give to friends — including those that don’t read much or well. The memoir documents the experiences of lawyer and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson. Many of you have probably heard of him: Tony Campolo speaks of him in his GP-beloved Carpe DiemJust Mercy chronicles the vast injustice that plagues America’s criminal justice system, weaving Stevenson’s various legal battles with the main story of Walter McMillian, an African America man convicted of and put on death row for murdering a white woman. Many of his cases involve those facing the death penalty, and Stevenson goes on to challenge capital punishment and the prison-industrial complex of this nation.

But the memoir goes deeper than merely depicting Stevenson’s cases over the years. Stevenson, in the midst of such injustice and brokenness, examines the need for mercy and redemption for all — to both the black and white man; regardless if you are a lifelong Alamedan or born and raised in DeLisle, Mississippi; no matter whether empowered or oppressed; felon or saint. Stevenson reflects on the possible-truth that we are all in dire need of grace.

I read this book in high school and found it particularly formative in the way I perceived worth in this world. It is nothing short of gripping, inspirational and profound. Going back to the young folk thing: I’ve never had a friend that started this book and didn’t finish! Justin Yi and I liked this book, thus chances are you’ll appreciate it too. Holla — your boy got all the good reads.

Confession: I don’t quite know if I was supposed to include that last sentence in the review, but I *think* it’s like a book review mic-drop. Correct me if I’m wrong. 🙂

Anyway, I can attest to Michael’s love for the book. For a while, every time I saw him, he’d ask me if I’d read it yet! And like he said, he got his friends to read it, and then Philip also proceeded to recommend it to me highly. So I did end up reading it and loving it as well. So that’s three people recommending this read. (Never mind that Oprah also recommends it!) [insert cry-laughing emoji]

Have you read Just Mercy? What did you think? If you have a book you’d like to review, contact me and we’ll get you in the queue!

10 thoughts on “Guest Book Review: Just Mercy

  1. Made it despite being two years late. Haha.

    If allowed, I’d like to commission a few folks for reviews: P. Joong (Gilead), Josh L. (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) and Danny O. (Scarcity).

    Actually, forget it. What the people want is Mr. Sketch!


  2. Made it despite being two years late. Haha.

    If allowed, I’d like to commission a few folks for reviews: P. Joong (Gilead), Josh L. (The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace) and Danny O. (Scarcity).

    Actually, forget it. What the people want is Mr. Sketch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I picked up Just Mercy when it was at Starbucks and I recognized the name from the Tony Campolo video Carpe Diem! It was a gut wrenching read, and I ended up reading it about 2 years later for work! It was the book for the summer to read for the educators at my school (all about social justice & faith). It was good even the second time through, but not as emotionally hard hitting. If you want to learn more about the criminal justice system, and how it has been working or not working, this is a must read. It may fundamentally change your view of capital punishment. If you enjoy “To Kill A Mockingbird” then this book is like a real life version of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read as much in recent couple years but I started a new job recently so listened to the audio book version after reading this review and couldn’t stop listening. It was such a perspective-changing book, (reminded me of when I read Alicia My Story). I was horrified at the injustice that was happening in the “justice” system, angry at the blatant biases that people can be so blind to, very touched by the humanity of many of the prisoners, whether guilty or innocent, marveled at Bryan Stevenson’s empathy to reach out and love each prisoner and his perseverance to do this hard work of representing people who had nothing to repay him, and most of all, thankful for the reassurance of God’s mercy, that we’re more than the worst thing we’ve done. Thanks for the recommendation, definitely recommending it to everyone I know!


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