(Book review) Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Reviewed by: Jaci Gorrell, a professional writing major at Taylor University in Upland, IN.



Title: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Author: Bryan Stevenson

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Publication Date: 2015

Format: Print book

Length: 349 pages



Today, as in years past, social justice and the penal system are topics of intensive debate. To the layman, these concepts can feel nebulous and inaccessible, and to seek answers in the media is to pursue an incomplete picture. Just Mercy does what facts and statistics can’t do—it puts names, faces, and stories to the subject.

            In his book, Bryan Stevenson chronicles the story of his early years as a lawyer as he worked to found the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Among his many tales is Stevenson’s account of Walter McMillian—one of his earliest clients who was sentenced to death row for a murder he didn’t commit—and the fight to secure his rightful justice. It’s as good as watching an episode of “Matlock” or “Perry Mason.”

Overall, Just Mercy is a powerful testament of what it looks like to stand up for the poor and vulnerable in society. Stevenson’s vivid anecdotes tell the stories of mothers, fathers, children, minorities, and disabled individuals who deserve the mercy and redemption the world denied them. Often it is a David versus Goliath circumstance, but sometimes it has the same outcome, which is cause for cheering and exuberance.

Some liken Stevenson’s testament to that of To Kill a Mockingbird. Others deem Stevenson the next Mandela. What is certain is that Stevenson’s story is incredibly insightful and deeply moving, and it provides an insider’s view of the American legal system that most citizens seldom encounter.



Rating (1 to 5)

5 stars

Suggested Audience

This book contains frequent discussions of the crime, violence, poverty, and punishment Stevenson encounters in his work and is, thus, more suitable for an adult audience.

Christian Impact

Stevenson’s testimony urges Christians to think about and to engage the criminal justice system and its death penalty. Stevenson also illustrates examples of God’s mercy and grace, as well as the call to care for the poor and needy.

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About Evangelical Church Library Association

The Evangelical Church Library Association, founded in 1970, is a fellowship of Christian churches, schools, and individuals.

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