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Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice
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Just Mercy (Adapted for Young Adults): A True Story of the Fight for Justice

4.67  ·  Rating details ·  324 ratings  ·  79 reviews
In this young adult adaptation of the acclaimed bestselling Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson delves deep into the broken U.S. justice system, detailing from his personal experience his many challenges and efforts as a lawyer and social advocate, especially on behalf of America's most rejected and marginalized people.

In this very personal work--proceeds of which will go to char
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 18th 2018 by Delacorte Press
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Denise There's 55 pages of text removed. I read the adult version earlier this year and have less than 100 pages to read in the YA book. I find it moves more…moreThere's 55 pages of text removed. I read the adult version earlier this year and have less than 100 pages to read in the YA book. I find it moves more quickly and is less dense, leaving out background details that are less likely to interest teens. Both are very well written. The YA version is an easier read but doesn't leave anything essential out of the book. (less)

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4.67  · 
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 ·  324 ratings  ·  79 reviews

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Shauna Yusko
Should be mandatory reading. Pair with Dead Man Walking. And We’ll Fly Away for a fiction pairing.
Author read the audio.
Excellent, but still made me sick about how we treat people in this country.
Julie Suzanne
A perfect choice for a One School, One Book read or a "community read." I'd prefer, "One country, one read." The adult version is a life-changer, and I read this one and the adult version at the same time, reading a chapter at a time from each book so that I essentially got the story twice in 2 days. Here's how they compare:

--This version is much more concise; details were omitted, vocabulary sometimes changed (i.e. anomaly --> mystery), some sections rearranged, and longer sentences sometime
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's really sad but really good. It's one of the best books I have ever read. It isn't too long but it is definitely a harder read because it was "adapted for young adults."
Erin Logan
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
Bryan Stevenson chronicles his life as an attorney fighting to reform the justice system and to represent the under-represented. If you want to get angry, read this book. If you want to get angry while listening to Stevenson's passion behind his work, listen to this book. I loved this YA adaptation and feel it belongs on middle and high school shelves.
Everyone should read this book. It should be required reading in school!
Joan Baslow-Temple
Every American should read this book!
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Our Southern Voices keynote speaker has shared the powerful story of the legal practice he founded to protect the rights of people on the margins of American society.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The young adult version is just as compelling as the original publication. The stories are simplified but not dumbed down. Bryan Stevenson is a hero.
Syd Lindblom
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just want to say that I was the first person to review this on Amazon, and I rarely review things on Amazon.

I read the original Just Mercy only a year ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. These stories seemed especially relevant as I teach To Kill a Mockingbird to 8th graders where we also grapple with themes of injustice. I actually had my students read excerpts from the original version as we read TKAM to see how these issues pervade our society today. My students responded incredibly we
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya, printz-contender
I think Just Mercy was the most important book I read in 2018.

Over the winter break, after reading Edi Campbell's recommendation, (link: ) I bought both Just Mercy and We Are Not Yet Equal by Carol Anderson and Tanya Bolden. I am so glad for her recommendation. Both books are filled with information that were eye-opening to me.

**Recently reread (last week) for the YA literature night class I'm teaching this spring. It was just as powerful the second tim
Jun 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! A powerful collection of stories to open eyes to the injustice that continues rampant today. Stories woven together through the life experiences of Bryan Stevenson.


I recognized that I had been struggling my whole life with the question of how and why some people are judged unfairly.

one in every three black male babies born in this century is expected to be incarcerated.

Presumptions of guilt based on poverty and racial bias have created a system that is defined by error.

I am persuade
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The line in this book that got me: Capital punishment is punishment for people who don’t have capital. Or something to that effect. That about sums up Bryan Stevenson’s legal memoir regarding our flawed justice system. Race, poverty and the death penalty have been at the center of this man’s remarkable career.

Some statistics: 1 in 3 African Americans is in jail; between 1980 and 2010 the incarceration rate for females jumped 600%; 1 in 15 Americans will find themselves imprisoned at some point i
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an extremely important book. It tells the true story of our incredibly flawed prison system. I typically read only realistic fiction, and I found myself reassuring the gut wrenching feelings this book provokes with the thoughts of, "Thank goodness this is just a story to Oh my God this is all true." Bryan Stevenson wrote a book that I pray will initiate change and get many more people involved in this broken system.
I grew up waiting tables and have always thought being a server is
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-non-fiction
This was heartbreaking and messy and inspiring and so thought provoking. While this is the young readers edition (which I had to read for a committee nominee, vs. the original adult version), it still gets to the heart of the matter in terms of the death penalty here in America.

What I found refreshing is it’s honesty - there is no direct bashing of the death penalty, but the talk of seeing someone die in person and being part of the team that does so is so thought provoking against those that s
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Paula
Interesting (and true) accounts of falsely imprisoned (or imprisoned for longer than "necessary") people in Alabama, written by a lawyer serving near where To Kill a Mockingbird is set. Stevenson (very admirably) devotes his life to helping imprisoned people.

Instead of complaining about "institutional racism" and teaching criminals that they're victims, I wish more emphasis was put on teaching boys who grow up in crime-ridden areas to obey the law, to be honest, and to realize that children dese
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
Rarely do I give a book 5 stars, but this book should be read by everyone.

You can read the synopsis of this book anywhere. Bryan Stevenson’s writing is at many times painful to read and I cannot imagine what it took for him to write it. His crafting of his clients’ lives and stories seems strikingly simple which I believe helps make them more powerful.

What I can tell you is that I read the first parts of Just Mercy with outrage and disbelief, continued reading through tear-filled eyes, and final
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must-read. I read the young adult version of the book because I was pressed for time before book club and because I worried that the original (adult) version would be too intense. However, any worries I had that this book would be too watered-down disappeared right away.

This version was painful to read because the injustices are just so terrible. Yet the tone remains hopeful throughout and the impact of the work being done by committed and diligent attorneys is evident. Our syste
May 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-read
This book was recommended to me and when I saw it in the library it looked interesting and seemed familiar for some reason. After checking it out, I realized this was the one that was recommended to me! I read the adapted for young adults, because 1) this was the one that I saw in the library and 2) the topic made me think that this would be easier to understand. I think I would have been fine with the "adult" version. Such an important topic, written with passion and an accessible means. Steven ...more
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stevenson's book had been on my "to read" list for a long time. So, when I saw there was a young adult adaptation, I decided to preview this for school use. I'm very glad I did. While I was aware of disparities and problems in the US justice system, Stevenson's experiences made real the people whose lives are impacted when justice is not carried out properly or is not tempered with mercy. Highly recommended for readers of all ages, not just YAs.

Note: I listened to the audio of Stevenson reading
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been on the waiting list for the - what - mature version? of this book for some time now. This edition was the only book the library was able to put in my hands in time for my book club. Honestly, I don't know if I would have read the story on my own. That's why I didn't go out and simply buy a copy.

This is no easy-breezy vacation book and all 5 star ratings are not created equal. That being said, it was compelling, disturbing, sad and hopeful, all in one. I found myself searching the web
Kimberly Rein
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing. I wish I'd read the adult version, I wonder how much of a difference there is. Freshmen at the local university are required to read this, and our school made it required for our seniors. I got an ARC of this and decided to give it a try!

WOW! It's amazing because it's our history. It makes me so mad. Some things haven't changed. I'm glad there are people fighting for the poor, the underdog, the minority, children, etc. I need ot look up the 60 minutes interview.

This is a MU
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While I haven’t read the original version to compare, I appreciated this YA adaptation and it brought me to tears on multiple occasions. Through Stevenson’s firsthand accounts as a lawyer, we get a glimpse into an array of issues with the prison industrial complex, whether it is with racial roots, unfairness for those suffering from poverty, mental illness, or the inhumane treatment within facilities and for youth. I can definitely see this being appropriate for teens as an accessible read intro ...more
Kensey Nichols
Just Mercy tells the many interwoven tales of the convicted death row clients of a young lawyer. Some of the stories are touching and I love the concept of it, but the execution used highly simplified language that I think detracted from the overall story. I am very interested In this topic and already knew a lot about it from other texts, so if you were reading about this subject for the first time, this may be a very powerful read. Maybe some day I’ll read the unadapted version to see how it c ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tough look at the inequity and injustice of death row. I read the YR edition with the idea we might do it for mother / daughter book club, but it's too intense. Some amazing work Stevenson is doing. I read sections to my prosecutor husband (who is against the death penalty) who wanted to know more details he omitted and more of the other side of the story - always too sides to a story. Certainly some areas we can agree are without a doubt cruel, unusual, and unjust. Parts made me sick to my stom ...more
Meghan Kazmierczak
The audio version of this book was phenomenal. A memoir read by the man who lived the story is just so powerful, even if the story isn’t a typical memoir. We don’t get a lot of details about Bryan Stevenson’s life in this book, but we do get an overwhelming sense of who he is and how much he cares for the people he helps through his work. It was a very moving book that raised a lot of conscience-twisting questions about the criminal justice system, capital punishment, racism, justice, poverty, a ...more
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book, though it was not one of my favorites. This is mainly because it is nonfiction, which is usually not my type. Despite this, I loved listening to the stories from people all over the US and how they were affected by the justice system. I especially liked how I also learned about organizations (EJI) and people who helped others through struggles. Also, the statistics were crazy!
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was both disturbing and fascinating. A must-read for those interested in social justice. Examines the way the legal system work and doesn’t, especially the way it doesn’t work for people without money. Examines how there is a separate set of rules for children (voting, smoking, etc.) but many had been tried as adults and locked away for life until the law was changed. Delves into some sad cases but ends on a hopeful note.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a painful, necessary read. I have read the adult version and decided to pre-read this to ascertain which of my kids could read it. There is more talk of sexual violence and rape than I would have expected from a young adult adaptation, so I suggest pre-reading it before handing it to your kids. It is inspiring and painful, raw and true. I wish it weren't so, but since it is, I'm so thankful there are people like Bryan Stevenson in the world.
Audrey Smith
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1. This book is nonfiction but reads like realistic fiction. It's not some boring book about law. It really engages you throughout, and truly goes above and beyond the standards of a regulation non-fiction book.
2. This book also tells about so many unfair cases, not just one (although there is one main case that the author describes the most)
3. This book taught me about something I didn't know in a really great way.
4. This book is a must-read. No one who reads it can deny that.
Kristie Lock
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done."

"We've become so fearful and vengeful that we've thrown away children, discarded the disabled, and allowed the imprisonment of the sick and the weak - not because they are a threat to public safety or beyond rehabilitation, but because we think it makes us seem tough, less broken."

"...we have a reform system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent."
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Bryan Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias again
“My work has taught me a vital lesson. Each of us is more than the worse thing we've done. I am persuaded that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.” 2 likes
“I've come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the respected, and the privileged among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” 1 likes
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