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

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  481 ratings  ·  108 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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Average rating 4.54  · 
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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 ...more
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
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 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 ...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 thePost 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
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,
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.
Sarah Peters
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was unputdownable. It is at turns wrenching, inspiring, and perplexing. It illuminates the various ways that very human people respond to tragedy and grief, and raises plenty of questions about mental illness and why someone would ever commit an act of violence like this. Jennifer Berry Hawes mines the complex racial history of Charleston throughout the book, specifically discussing the controversial removal of the confederate flag from the State House as well as the police shooting of ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
By now, most people are familiar with the tragic church shooting which occurred in Charleston in 2015. Fewer are aware of what followed in the months and years afterward. Hawes does an excellent job of telling the story of several victims and the survivors here, as well as their families. Not surprisingly, she has a reporter's eye for human detail and a good story--Hawes won a Pulitzer in 2014 for writing unrelated to her coverage of the shooting. Her beat was actually the religion desk when the ...more
Tori Samar
A devastating yet moving recounting of the 2015 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC, and its aftermath. Not surprisingly, some hot-button political/social issues factor heavily into this book. But if reading this book just makes you want to dig your heels in one way or the other, you have missed the point. This book's exceptional strength is that it brings to the forefront the real people who lost their lives and the real families who suffered heartache beyond description because of ...more
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very well written account of this tragedy. Hawes brings the community to life and makes you feel their pain. She makes plain the damage that a crime like this inflicts on the community around it, with waves of horror spreading out from it.

And it's not a narrowly Christian story; it should appeal to everyone as a tale of real people dealing with unimaginable disruption and shock.

My first advice is that you read this book. My second advice is to have a box of tissues nearby. It will break your
Dan Bynion
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very well written “rest of the story” that goes beyond the senseless shooting by a racist kid and the gracious act of forgiveness offered by the victims of Emmanuel AME church. It opened my eyes to some of the ways that victims and families suffer in the months and years following the initial life altering event. I found it hopeful and inspiring, as well as sad and profoundly disturbing at times. Mostly, after reading the detailed accounts of Dylann Roof, and all those effected by ...more
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hawes looks at the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church from all sides — what happened; its impact on the families, church, city, state, and nation; details of the trial; insightful portrayals of all persons involved. Her aim was “to convey the sheer scope of devastation that mass tragedies sow in the lives of everyday people,” and that she does! Despite portrayals of suffering, of grieving families feeling abandoned by church authorities and media preoccupied with the big picture, possible mishandling ...more
Susie Dixon
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I don’t know how many times tears welled up in my eyes. I had a heaviness in my chest while listening and thinking of the horror and pain everyone experienced... victims, family members, church, community, and all those who lived the story from a distance.

This book cannot be reduced to a story. This is our truth as a country. We all have a responsibility regardless of our color or ethnicity, to speak truth into racial stereotypes, slurs, biases, and misrepresentations. We never know in what
Shelley H
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow I’m so glad I pushed out of my comfy zone

As a teacher gun violence is something I think of every day - yes every day. We think of ordinary moments turning into horrific ones in seconds. This book made me think and reflect in ways I’d never thought of. Thank you for pushing me but also reminding me that history has so many lessons that are both physical and emotional!
Lauren Mueller
Dec 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for all Americans— Hawed humanizes a devastatingly complex moment in history. The small moments of deep courage, the intersection of race, guns, and religion, and the role of heritage, corporately and personally, are all explored beautifully in this in-depth piece on the shooting.
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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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