Book Review: So You Want to Talk About Race

Title: So You Want to Talk About Race
Author: Ijeoma Oluo
Genre: Nonfiction/Social Justice/Race
Version: Paperback
Page Count: 256
Publisher: Seal Press
Add To-Read on: GoodReadsStoryGraph
Notable Notables: Accessible language combined with honesty of the lived experience for Black people and non-Black POC
Recommended Readers: For white people who need a primer on race relations in America and for POC who need knowledge of how to navigate these discussions and white reactions
Rating: ★★★★★

My Review

I’m not sure what can be said about Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race that hasn’t already been said by those more knowledgeable and eloquent than I, including Oluo herself. So instead, I will endeavor to be honest.

This book has timely messages written in a clear, accessible language that have been needed long before its initial publication in 2018. They are timely now in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders at the hands of police brutality and White Supremacy. And I suspect they will be needed regardless of what the outcome of the U.S. 2020 election is for years to come.

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Book Review: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row

the sun does shine

Title: The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row
 Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
Version: ARC – ebook (Uncorrected Proof)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Synopsis: GoodReads
Notable Notables: POC POV, focuses on Social Justice and Reform
Recommended Readers: EVERYONE
Rating: ★★★★★

Thank you, NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press, for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

It’s strange what you can get used to.

When I got the email promoting this book, I was blown away by the premise. In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton, a Black man living in Alabama, was convicted of two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and armed robbery and sentenced to death by electrocution. The catch? He was totally innocent of the crimes they accused him of committing; the only evidence the prosecutors offered during the trial was his mother’s gun as the murder weapon, which hadn’t been fired once in over 25 years. This so-called “evidence” along with bogus ballistics reports and racism from an all-white jury, judge, and prosecution ensured that Ray would spend almost 30 years on death row before he was ruled innocent in 2015.

Ray’s innocence, however, doesn’t happen magically, if the time it took is any indication. What follows in The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row is a long, uphill struggle for the truth to become known and justice to be served. Ray’s story is one of finding hope in hopelessness, love instead of hatred, and light instead of darkness–and he struggles at first. For three years, Ray doesn’t speak to anyone on death row, letting hate and rage fester inside of him as he loses faith in almost everything he’s ever believed in.

Until one day, the inmate in the cell next to him starts crying–a common occurrence on death row–but he sounds so anguished, so hopeless that Ray realizes something crucial about us humans. Hatred is a choice but so, too, is compassion.

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