Wednesday, March 3, 2021

The Sun Does Shine - Book Breakdown

A powerful, revealing story of hope, love, justice, and the power of reading by a man who spent thirty years on death row for a crime he didn't commit.

In 1985, Anthony Ray Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free.

But with no money and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in agonizing silence—full of despair and anger toward all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015.

With a foreword by Stevenson, The Sun Does Shine is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Destined to be a classic memoir of wrongful imprisonment and freedom won, Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.

Book Breakdown

Ray was wrongly convicted of a crime he didn't commit. 30 years of his life were stolen from him for no reason other than he was black and poor. Was he perfect? No. No one is perfect. Ray had committed the crime of stealing a car but he paid his dues and never again broke the law. He was a loving son to a wonderful mother. He had the world's best friend - who never once missed a visitor day in 30 years. He was hard-working, loved God, and seemed like the kind of guy you'd want to have in your life. He's funny and tries hard to make others laugh. He's also one of the most forgiving people I've ever seen.

He forgave a member of the KKK. He took the time to understand just what had gone down and become friends with the guy. I don't know many people who'd be willing to do that. 

After reading this book, I feel like I know Ray, he never once shied away from the horrors he went through, the degrading way he and the inmates were treated, how it smelled after someone was put to death, even the roaches that crawled across his cell. I cried so much during this book that I had to take breaks, it was that hard to get through. If it was hard for me to read... I can't imagine what living through it was like. 

He would go into his mind and daydream to get away from the terrible things around him. I could relate to that as I've done the same. Ray always tried to make the inmates happier, even started a book club for a while. The guards even started to like him. He stayed positive and happy. I couldn't even pretend to understand the level of strength that took. I would've turned into a bitter, hateful bitch.

I would love to meet Ray one day and just talk to him, his story is very powerful. It shows the darker side of our country that we sometimes like to pretend just doesn't exist. It should be read by everyone. It did bring up a few questions in my mind but one that I would like to leave you with is this:

What do you think plagues America more: Classism or Racism?