[REVIEW] The Sun Does Shine

Today I’ll be sharing my review of The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton.

I haven’t felt this strongly about a book since I read Educated last year. I came across this book on a Good Reads List for Autobiographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction has been a refreshing new category for me that I had previously written off assuming it would be boring. Boy, was I wrong!

I was hooked on this book from the very beginning. The author has a beautiful way of telling the story of his life and weaving in culture, history, and faith along the way. I was surprised at how disgusted I could become with the judicial system. Just when I didn’t think it could get any worse, I’d become even more infuriated at the corruptness.

The most mind-boggling part was that this happened where I grew up, Jefferson County Alabama, yet I had NEVER heard an ounce of this story until I read this book. The synopsis gave me enough info to know that this innocent man is eventually released but at every twist and turn I kept wondering HOW MUCH LONGER will they let this go on?!?! The answer was 30 years.

Mr. Hinton provides an amazing perspective in his autobiography. His compassion and consideration for others is so refreshing. He has a likeable personality in general but his determination to find the good in people and to be an encouragement to those around him is extraordinary considering his long-term confinement. I can only hope that I would have his outlook if I were in that situation. Honestly, I don’t know that I would but, as he says, “it’s amazing what a person can get used to.”

This book simultaneously destroyed and then renewed my hope in humanity. I would highly recommend it although be warned that you may experience a roller coaster of emotions along the way. It provides some powerful insight about surviving and thriving in this life no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.

Other key characters in his story included his lifelong friend, Lester Bailey who drove 7 hours round trip every single visiting day to see his friend and make sure he had everything he needed – for 30 YEARS!. Oh to have a friend like that! Bryan Stevenson was the attorney who finally picked up Mr. Hinton’s case 15 years in and then spent the next 15 YEARS fighting the good fight in court, free of charge, until he was finally exonerated in 2015. Otherwise, this innocent man would have died for no reason. I look forward to reading Mr. Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy, to experience this story from his perspective.

The state of Alabama, at the very least, owes this man an apology but they have swept it under the rug like it never even happened, which is also why we’ve never heard this story. And, yet, after all this, it unnerves me to know that the real serial killer was never brought to justice and no one even cared.

This is not a book I would have normally picked. I’m still not sure why I was initially drawn to it, but I would highly recommend it. Despite the content, the author’s ability to spin this story in a beautiful and positive way is quite impressive.

For further reading, check out this article from The Guardian.

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