Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Summer Reading: The Sun Does Shine

I'm still working my way through the nine titles I planned to read this summer.  School started yesterday, and I might not get through everything I planned and wanted to read (I read lots of books that weren't on my list!), but at least I did get a few of these books read.

This past week I quickly devoured The Sun Does Rise by Anthony Ray Hinton.  And it was excellent.

A few years ago I listened to Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. Audio books are hard for me. I often find myself daydreaming instead of listening.  However, this one was one I loved - and listened to intently.

Hinton's story is featured in Just Mercy, so I especially enjoyed hearing his story in his own words, despite the fact that it's a tough story to hear.

Hinton recounts how he was arrested for three separate crimes he never committed. He takes responsibility for some early trouble with the law when he was a young man, but his crimes were minor and not violent.  When he was arrested, he initially thought that a misunderstanding had occurred and he would be released.  

And then it becomes obvious that the criminal system doesn't really care if Hinton is guilty or not.  They are happy to have someone to pin these crimes on, and even if they don't have the right guy, they are certain he will be convicted.  And he is.

Hinton spends nearly three decades in prison, just a few feet away from the electric chair where men he spent every day with were put to death, and where he worried he would soon be sent.  

His mother and life-long friend, Lester, argued for his release. Evidence (which was disregarded repeatedly) pointed to his innocence.  And eventually Bryan Stevenson became involved in Hinton's case.

Despite the fact that Hinton was now being represented by someone who believed in him and the evidence that clearly showed his innocence, it took years before Hinton was finally declared innocent.

This book is an amazing look at one man's life.  He shares the highs and lows, his mistakes, his despair, his anger, and his hopes.  He also shares the reality of life on death row and the fact that our criminal justice system is flawed.

I absolutely loved this book, despite the fact that my heart broke for Anthony Ray Hinton and the many people who are living similar stories.  If you're looking for a good non-fiction book, one worth thinking about and talking about, The Sun Does Shine is one you need to pick up.

No comments: