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Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  1,130 ratings  ·  207 reviews
A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.

On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published June 4th 2019 by St. Martin's Press
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 ·  1,130 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read a review by my Friend Brandice, and saw 5 stars from my other Friend Susan, I decided to request this book from Overdrive despite being aware that this would not be an easy summer read. Another reason was that I happened to be in the USA when this tragedy occurred and followed it on television. I was shocked as as it was the first time I had been so relatively close and the live tv broadcast made me feel terribly upset. The killing of 9 out 12 people who were praying and studying the ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Given its subject, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness was tough to read though very well-written. Devastating and terrible are the only words to describe what happened. I cannot fathom enduring what the victims and their families went through - and are still going through in their grief today, 4 years later.

Grace Will Lead Us Home describes Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (aka: Mother Emanuel), its parishioners, the
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
It was about fifteen years ago that a stranger came to church and after worship service was directed to the young adult Sunday School class. He sat quietly during the discussion. Then he spoke up, asking what the church believed about a divisive social issue. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds before I was inspired to answer.

I explained the official denomination's Social Principles. And I explained the wide range of personal beliefs that our community included. As we broke up, the man
Diane Barnes
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I should start a new shelf for book club assignments that I really didn't want to read but then ended up liking. Because that's where this book would go. I live in the Charleston area and between the TV coverage and in-depth newspaper articles at the time of the massacre and during the trial, I believed I knew all I needed to know about this hate crime and the people involved. But no.

Jennifer Berry Hawes has given us a book of such beauty and respect, not just for the victims and their families,
Sharon Risher
Jennifer is such a gifted writer and story teller. Since, I’m mentioned in the book, I was overwhelmed of how she captured the true essence of who I am and how she showed the family members as regular people who had heart wrenching stories after such a tradgey. Great read!
Dawn Michelle
I finished this book at 1:30am and spent the rest of the night [when I was not sleeping, which was a lot of the rest of the night] thinking about what to write in this review - to do this amazing book justice. To do the victims justice. To honor both the victims and the survivors. To impart to all those who are looking at this book just how important it is to pick this book up and read it. And feel it. Learn from it. And then turn around and both pass this book on to someone else and use what th ...more
Barbara H
Aug 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a meticulously written, multi-faceted account of another one of our tragic,senseless massacres. Clearly, innocent, hardworking individuals, their families and the community have suffered from this. Much admiration goes out to this author for her sensitivity and endurance.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A powerful & emotional read. 4.5 stars.

12 church members attended the Weds night Bible class
@ the historically black Emanuel AME church in
Charleston, S.C. A quiet, thin, white guy, Dylann Roof,
joined them. Unknown to them he was a white supremist
packing a Glock pistol & magazines containing 88 bullets.
Looking to start a race war. At the Bible study conclusion,
all hell broke loose.

He murdered 9 people: Rev. Pinckney (Pastor +state
senator), Rev. Simmons (retired), Myrna Thompson
(a new mi
Anna Clark
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Superb journalism. All victims, families, and places involved in mass shootings deserve this level of care and thoughtful examination.
Sep 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was difficult to read at times, but I'm so glad I did. It paints a beautiful, real picture of strength and grace in the face of horrific hate. The accounts of the events at Mother Emanuel and all that followed were eye-opening and gripping. I do wish the author had left out some of the internal family drama of the victims' families, mainly because reading it felt voyeuristic. They have been through plenty. But her narrative of the shooting and then everything that followed was extremel ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I like Hawes’ ability to keep the story focused on the victims. Hawes thankfully did not take the approach of the Magistrate judge who begged for compassion for the Roof family. Mr. & Mrs. Roof raised at least two racist children who caused mayhem against the state of S.C. Dylann was a 9th grade dropout who felt his skin color made him superior to his victims although he couldn’t put a sentence together devoid of grammatical or spelling errors. Dylann couldn’t hold a job and was socially awkward ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Summary: An account of the massacre of nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, and the responses of survivors and surviving families, notably the forgiveness offered, and the impact on the families, the church, and the Charleston community.

Jennifer Berry Hawes is a Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist for the Post and Courier, based in Charleston, South Carolina. She not only was one of those who covered the fateful events of June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof was welc
David Doty
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It seemed very ironic that just a couple of days after I started reading this book, there were two more mass shootings in America, one (at an El Paso Walmart) of which was clearly racially motivated, just like the massacre at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. Therefore, this book, which already held special relevance to me since I knew one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, became even more compelling.

The author, Jennifer Berry Hawes, is a journalist at the Charleston Post & Courier, and h
This was my next audiobook choice and it was a very good one – I was guided by the fact that it won an Audie Award for Best General Nonfiction. It is an account not only of the massacre of nine Black worshippers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church in 2016, but of what followed: the national and local responses, the arrest and trial of Dylann Roof, and the incredibly painful journey of the survivors and the bereaved. This last is probably the most powerful element of the book. Although forgiveness ...more
Konrad Mueller
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Man, it’s so easy after mass shootings to let the weight pass in the periphery of news cycles, and not reckon with the pain. Admittedly I did just that with the Emanuel AME massacre back in 2015. This book forced me to process the pain and reality, and did a wonderful job profiling the messiness that is healing in the wake of such a tragedy. This is an important read for everyone.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Berry Hawes crafted a masterpiece for her first book. This was a great read - nuanced, meticulously-researched and compelling. Throughout the book, Hawes paints the big picture and then fills in the nitty-gritty details that make the story so heart-wrenching. The racist vitriol that influenced the killer's thinking was difficult to read but important to understanding that white nationalism can have deadly consequences. ...more
Edward Sullivan
A profoundly moving account of the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and portrait of life in the aftermath for survivors and loved ones of the vicitms. Hawses's narrative is notable for its depth, keen insight, and compassion. Ultimately, it is a powerful, provocative meditation on grace and mercy. ...more
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good and a hard book to read

I have a lot to learn about the history of black people in America. I’m grateful to this book’s author for chronicling this horrible experience so I can I understand what happened.
Hillary Copsey
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Journalists often produce the best nonfiction, and this is an example of that. Compassionate, incisive reporting.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An emotionally difficult book to read, but a necessary one. I remember exactly where I was when I initially heard about the shooting, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. A timely reminder that love is both grace and action.
Alex Runowski
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this book as part of my Capital Punishment course at Michigan State College of Law and I was truly blown away by Jennifer Berry Hawes's ability to share this devastating story with such grace and precision.

I highly recommend Grace Will Lead Us Home.
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A tough read, but very illuminating. We’ve gotten used to a routine in mass shootings. The event, the emergency response, the widespread media coverage, the funeral services, the vilification of the shooter, the deification of the victims, the moving on to the next tragedy. This book reveals the more difficult, more complex process that occurs for the victims and families and for the perpetrator’s family and for the perpetrator. Trauma never affects just one person! An important book.
Tony Bartelme
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
From a gifted writer, this is an important and very human look at how we manage and mismanage the emotional trauma of these horrific shootings.
Kathleen Moy
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was not this! Writing from a journalist’s view, this book included not just the events of the shooting but the aftermath in the lives of individuals, the church, the community, and the nation. It highlighted not only the background of the incredible act of speaking forgiveness to the killer days afterwards but also some of the various other “human” elements too.

I couldn’t put it down and (audio) read the whole thing over just
Kathy Gardner-Jones
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.”

We each distinctly remember moments in our lives when the unthinkable happens. It is usually something so horrific that for at least a day it captures the nation’s collective conscientiousness. Sometimes the event is bad luck, human error, or an act of nature - a plane crashing into the nation’s Potomac River on an icy winter day, a space shuttle exploding mid-ai
Gerald Truesdale
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jennifer Berry Hawes spent the time getting things perfect in this account, and her ability to give you a front row seat into this tragedy is chilling and exectued with literary perfection. Her sincerity, compassion, and delivery of these lives lost makes your heart open and want to help. It is a must read !!!
Joy Pope
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Riveting and very thought-provoking.
Maya B
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this read. What I appreciated most was the author focused on the survivors and the families of the victims.
Mary Sisney
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Like most reporters, Hawes knows how to tell a good story. Her book reminds me of one of my favorite contemporary novels, Truman Capote’s “nonfiction novel” IN COLD BLOOD. Like Capote, she provides multiple perspectives, including that of the killer. I don’t feel sympathy for Dylan Roof the way I do for Perry Smith in Capote’s book, but I do sympathize with his mother and paternal grandparents. Because Hawes is reporting just the facts and not embellishing them with fiction, she had to interview ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was beautifully written and researched. I ended up liking the book even more than I thought I would. There is a contrast between the hate of the killer who killed 9 people during a peaceful Bible study, and the struggle for forgiveness and moving forward on behalf of the victim's families and survivors. It discusses the rebel flag of the South and the fight to bring it down from the capitol building.
A theme that I wasn't expecting was what happens when our church communities
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Jennifer Berry Hawes writes for the Charleston-based Post and Courier, where she spent a decade covering religion and now works on a team that handles in-depth investigative reporting projects for the newspaper.

Her work has won many honors including a Pulitzer Prize, a George Polk Award, a National Headliner Award, and a Dart Award for Journalism & Trauma. She lives in Charleston, S.C.

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“This whole week, I’ve been reflecting on this idea of grace. The grace of the families who lost loved ones. The grace that Reverend Pinckney would preach about in his sermons. The grace described in one of my favorite hymnals—the one we all know: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind but now I see. According to the Christian tradition, grace is not earned. Grace is not merited. It’s not something we deserve. Rather, grace is the free and benevolent favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Grace. As a nation, out of this terrible tragedy, God has visited grace upon us, for he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind. He has given us the chance, where we’ve been lost, to find our best selves. We may not have earned it, this grace, with our rancor and complacency, and short-sightedness” 1 likes
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