PositiveThe Washington PostElliott, a superlative investigative reporter...offers rich historical and social context ... What concentrates the story and makes it most gripping is when, about halfway through, Dasani applies to a boarding school for poor children ... For the sake of her readers, Elliott must strive to present a warts-and-all portrait of vulnerable people. To my eye she succeeds ... Where she doesn’t so much go is to the question of the difference that her own presence and actions have made to the story ... Bringing the struggles of the poor to the public eye is one of journalism’s highest callings, and Invisible Child takes its place alongside There Are No Children Here and Random Family. Elliott’s vivid account renders her subjects as whole people ... The family’s downward mobility appears to exemplify structural racism: People like them are stuck. Invisible Child makes this truth terribly, uncomfortably plain.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMcMillian’s ordeal is a good subject for Stevenson, first of all because it was so outrageous. The reader quickly comes to root for McMillian as authorities gin up a case against him, ignore the many eyewitnesses who were with him at a church fund-raiser at his home when the murder took place, and send him—before trial—to death row in the state pen ... Stevenson, writing his own book, walks a tricky line when it comes to showing how good can triumph in the world, without making himself look solely responsible ... as it happens, the book extols not his nobility but that of the cause, and reads like a call to action for all that remains to be done. Just Mercy has its quirks, though. Many stories it recounts are more than 30 years old but are retold as though they happened yesterday. Dialogue is reconstituted; scenes are conjured from memory; characters’ thoughts are channeled à la true crime writers ... For a memoir, Just Mercy also contains little that is intimate. Who has this man cared deeply about, apart from his mother and his clients among the dispossessed? It’s hard to say. Almost everything we learn about his personal life seems to illustrate the larger struggle for social justice ... But there’s plenty about his worldview ... Just Mercy will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.