Just Mercy Book Review


Jessica Lattanzi, Opinions Editor

If you’re craving an insightful, yet riveting story about social justice, then Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is the book for you. Stevenson published this nonfiction “story of justice and redemption” in 2014. Bryan Stevenson grew up in southern Delaware in the 1960s and graduated from Cape Henlopen High School. He then received his law degree from Harvard University in  1981. Upon graduation, Stevenson moved to Montgomery Alabama where he discovered his passion for criminal justice reform and founded a non-profit organization called The Equal Justice Initiative. The mission of this organization is  to provide legal representation to prisoners who are wrongly convicted, who are without the funds to hire a lawyer, or who did not receive a fair trial. This is where Just Mercy picks up; specifically, with one of Bryan’s first clients, Walter Macmillan. 

Macmillan was a black man living in Montgomery whose life was altered forever when police officers convicted him of a murder he knew nothing about. He spent the next six years on death row, surrounded by constant executions and his imminent execution date growing nearer with each passing day. Macmillan sought legal help and consultation from Stevenson. The novel details their difficult journey to vindicate Walter, exposing the injustices of the justice system in the process. Stevenson, also being a black man, details the constant discrepancies he faces in the criminal justice system. From being held at gunpoint for no reason, to people questioning his credibility as a lawyer, Bryan can personally attest to our nation’s systemic faults. Stevenson details his experiences with other clients, like MacMillan, who were innocent of  a myriad of clients who don’t deserve to die. 

The content of this novel can be heavy at times, but it is an absolutely eye opening account of the presence and cruelties of systemic racism that continue to course through the veins of our country and into the criminal justice system. It inspires us to do more to bring true liberty and justice for all people. Our work isn’t finished yet.