I didn’t want to read it but I’m glad I did: Book Review: “The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton
Like most students during the month of August, I have been playing catch up on my summer reading assignments. Now, I’ve never loved being assigned books so having one forced on me and then having to somehow connect to the material when I didn’t even choose it in the first place drains the joy straight out of my usual love of reading.
With that out of the way, this summer I was assigned two books: The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
“The Sun Does Shine” by Anthony Ray Hinton
I started with the former as the topic interested me more. If the title does not seem familiar, The Sun Does Shine is a memoir written by a man who was put on Alabama’s death row for thirty years after being found guilty of a series of murders he did not commit. By the forward alone (written by the one and only Bryan Stevenson who wrote Just Mercy) I knew I was right to choose this as my first read.
Stevenson paints Hinton to be a rarity among his many encounters with death row inmates. Guards were not cold and harsh as per usual legal visits, instead they inquired on how to help Stevenson prove Hinton’s innocence. While I did not understand why that was yet, I knew I had to continue reading to find out. And I did.
Hinton exemplifies what it means to forgive, despite all odds. As a Black man, he makes friends with a former KKK member. He does not violently retaliate or simmer in his resentment for the unjust and cruel criminal justice system during his thirty years in prison. Instead, against even the darkest setting a man can face, he continues to bring humor and light to his fellow inmates.
Despite being a book assigned to me by my school, I am grateful that I read it. If you are looking for a last summer read before school starts or before you have to rush around picking up your kids from various activities, I strongly recommend this book. It expanded my knowledge of the deep, racist cracks in our criminal justice system and how to appreciate my own freedom substantially more.
Elisabeth Dellit is a 10th Grader at Jesuit High School. She enjoys reading, writing creative stories, baking/cooking and participating in her school’s drama program.