*This is a book review of The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin.
“The whites lived in Birmingham, the blacks in Bombingham.”-Anthony Ray Hinton
Author: Anthony Ray Hinton & Lara Love Hardin
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Number of Pages: 368
SJ Rating: 99%
Anthony Ray Hinton is an innocent Black man who was put on Alabama’s death row for thirty years before being granted freedom. With the help of Lara Love Hardin, this is his emotionally moving story.
Before we get into it: I got the pleasure of hearing Anthony Ray Hinton in person when he came to my university to speak on his time being unjustly put in the prison system, which is something he dreamed of doing while on death row. Reading this book brought me back to that time I heard him speak, all the emotion in his voice when he cried recounting his time being in solitary confinement with a death row sentence… I’ve never heard an auditorium be so silent. I cried reading the book the same way I cried hearing him tell his story in person; it’s so heartbreaking. Bryan Stevenson (yes, that Bryan Stevenson) was correct when he wrote, “[Ray] is rare in his ability to mix humor, deep emotion, and compelling storytelling to move people to share his agonizing but ultimately triumphant journey.” After hearing Mr. Hinton in person, I couldn’t agree more.
The Sun Does Shine is a lesson of bravery and faith; others would have & did give up on death row but not Ray. He only lost his relationship with God before reviving it with even more faith.
This book truly takes you on an emotional roller coaster, whether you want to go on it or not. My soul was set on fire while I was reading the stereotypes inflicted on Black men. There were too many moments when tears flowed out my eyes, like when he wrote, “Let them stare. Let them see what a black man looks like chained from head to toe. Let them remember” and “…how was it okay to murder someone for murdering someone?” I could feel his frustration and emotion when he said, “What is the price of a life? What is the dollar amount a man will trade his soul for?”
Something I found particularly beautiful is that Anthony became friends with a white member of the KKK who killed a Black teenage boy, and Anthony showed him nothing but love; he didn’t feel hate nor anger towards Henry Hays. As he wrote, “There’s no racism on death row.”
Because of this book, I need to read Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin.
Though I understood absolutely none of the legal jargon, I loved reading Ray’s story. This book is a real life story of faith, friendship, and unconditional love.
You absolutely have to read this book. As Ray said, “Sorrow shared is sorrow lessened.”
Even if you don’t like reading, you need this book.
Next book to be read and reviewed: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins *cries*
“Listen, there are going to be people that dislike you because of the color of your skin. Some going to dislike you because you black; some people going to dislike you because you light-skinned. You going to have people dislike you because of whatever reason they find to dislike you. That’s just how the world is. But you have to be knowing that you are responsible for how you treat others, you’re not responsible for how they treat you. Do you understand? I don’t care what people say about you–you don’t drop down to their level. You always treat someone better than what they treat you. Always.”-Anthony’s mom (rest in power)