Getting Personal #269: My Favorite Things of 2021

Image Credit: Quote Master

So, before starting the lists of favorites, here’s my tally for books and Book Reviews for 2021:


Now, on to my favorites!

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

  • Baby Driver
  • Beanie Mania (HBO Max)
  • Black Widow
  • Coming 2 America (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
  • Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (Disney+)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Moxie (Netflix)
  • Noelle (Disney+)
  • Richard Jewell (HBO Max)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
  • Space Jam: A New Legacy (HBO Max)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home
  • The Tomorrow War (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Without Remorse (Amazon Prime Video)

Favorite TV Shows

  • Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children (HBO Max)
  • Black and Missing (HBO Max)
  • Cold Case – Seasons 1 – 7 (HBO Max)
  • Hawkeye (Disney+)
  • Head of the Class – Original Series (HBO Max)
  • Hoarders (YouTube)
  • LEGO Masters – Season 2 (Hulu)
  • Loki (Disney+)
  • LuLaRich (Amazon Prime Video)
  • Midnight Mass (Netflix)
  • Supermarket Sweep (YouTube)
  • Ted Lasso – Season 1 (Apple TV+)
  • The Baby-Sitters Club – Season 2 (Netflix)
  • The Muppet Show (Disney+)
  • WandaVision (Disney+)

Favorite Podcasts

  • 48 Hours
  • American Radical
  • Auld Lang Gone: The Lost Carmen Sandiego
  • Criminal
  • Cold – Season 2
  • Crimes of Passion
  • Dateline NBC
  • Embedded
  • Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera
  • Life After MLM
  • Mind Over Murder – Seasons 1 and 2
  • Operator
  • Over My Dead Body – Season 3
  • Suspect
  • The Thing About Helen and Olga
  • Up and Vanished – Season 3
  • Small Town Dicks
  • StoryCorps

Well, that wraps up my favorite things for 2021!

What about you? What were some of your favorite things of the year?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #33: Not Guilty Verdict for Rittenhouse

Joseph Rosenbaum (left), and Anthony Huber (right) were shot and killed on August 25, 2020 in the wake of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin over the shooting of Jacob Blake. Image Credit: NBC News

I cursed out loud earlier today when I caught wind of the Not Guilty verdict for now-18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse. He was acquitted of all charges today in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Am I surprised? No.

Am I angry, disappointed, and frustrated? YES.


I’m not going to rehash the case here since it’s been such a high-profile case with tons of media coverage.

However, I’m thinking of the families of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, along with Gaige Grosskreutz today.


As I mulled over my own thoughts and feelings today, I sincerely hope that something good will come out of this. According to NPR (article linked below), even though he was acquitted of criminal charges, it’s likely that he faces one or more civil lawsuits in the very near future.

I also think that Judge Bruce Schroeder should be investigated. His courtroom conduct during this trial has been beyond bizarre to say the least. I’m really curious to see what happens with Judge Schroeder now that a verdict has been reached.


Resources

Kyle Rittenhouse is acquitted of all charges in the trial over killing 2 in Kenosha | NPR

Kyle Rittenhouse acquitted on all charges | ABC News

EXPLAINER: Which charges did Kyle Rittenhouse face? | AP News


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #118: “Mom Opens Store and Uses Proceeds to Pay for People’s Adoptions”

Brittany Berrie opened The Adopted Closet in Davenport, Iowa to help cover the cost of adoption for families. Image Credit: Amanda Williams

This is such a cool story that Good Morning America covered!

Mom opens store and uses proceeds to pay for people’s adoptions (November 11, 2021)


Brittany Berrie finalized the adoption of her 11-year-old daughter, Gracie Lou Susan Johnson, earlier this summer. It was finalized after several years thanks to the generosity of Berrie’s cousin, who insisted on paying for the remaining costs. The average cost of adoption in the Unites States, through a private agency, ranges between $60,000 and $70,000. Costs can vary wildly as well.

Trying to find a way to thank her cousin, Berrie decided to help pay for another family’s adoption. She knew first-hand how expensive the process was. While organizing a garage sale with her mom, she had the idea to use the proceeds to help fund another adoption. Once people knew where the proceeds were going, donations poured in and never stopped.

Overwhelmed with clothes and other items, Berrie knew that they needed a store.

She converted her family’s garage into The Adopted Closet. Family members, including Gracie, keep the store running three days a week.

The proceeds from the garage sale and the store, in a matter of months, have already helped fund one family’s adoption, of two boys, which was finalized on November 6, 2021.

Berrie’s efforts coincide with National Adoption Awareness Month, observed every November. The lawyer for the family whose adoption was just finalized stated that the high costs is very prohibitive for a lot of families, making Berrie’s commitment and efforts even more remarkable.

Berrie is committed to continuing The Adopted Closet, and hopes to expand into a storefront to keep the store open year-round.


I’m super impressed with Berrie and her family. Being foster parents and/or adopting children is a huge act of love. And there are so many in need right here in the U.S. I’ve listed several resources below!


Resources

Fact Sheets | Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI)

National Council for Adoption

National Foster Parent Association (NFPA)

AdoptUSKids

Average Adoption Costs in the United States | Family Equality

Comparing the Cost of Domestic, International and Foster Care Adoption | American Adoptions


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #117: “A Free In-School Grocery Store At An Atlanta School Is Tackling Child Hunger”

Image Credit: Jasmine Crowe, featured in NPR story.

I love this idea! Way to go, NPR!

A Free In-School Grocery Store At An Atlanta School Is Tackling Child Hunger

Jasmine Crowe is one amazing woman. She started feeding people out of her apartment in 2013, every weekend for three years. That alone is amazing.

But then she went further, and truly above and beyond.

Check out the information below. Her company, Goodr, is incredible. Now that she’s partnered with rapper Gunna, the students at Ronald McNair Middle School have access to amazing resources. What struck me the most was that now, the kids at school can bring home dinner or other supplies, no questions asked. If the adults are working when school lets out, these kids can bring home food for their families. To me, that’s a huge weight lifted!


Resources

Goodr

Everybody Eats

Jasmine Crowe: What Can We Do To Tackle Food Waste and Hunger? | TED Radio Hour (September 3, 2021)

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #116: Thoughts on “LuLaRich”

Image Credit: Google Images, Amazon Prime Video

Buckle up, friends. This is going to be a long post. Strong language is used.

Some of you know that I used to buy LuLaRoe (LLR) clothing for two years, from 2017-2019. At the time, I had no clue it was a multi-level marketing company, or MLM.

Now, Amazon Prime Video has released a decent documentary that features the founders, former front office employees, current and former “retailers,” and a few more.

NOTE: I originally set this post to publish on September 20th after having re-watched Episodes 1 and 2, thinking I was going to be able to re-watch all four episodes before the post published automatically. That didn’t happen. It published automatically, and I forgot about it for a few days. I decided to update the scheduling to publish it on September 24th after needing to re-watch Episodes 3 and 4 and make my notes about it. So the updated publishing date is actually September 24th.


Episode 1 – Start Up

Image Credit: LuLaRich

I can’t believe the producers of this documentary were actually able to get DeAnne and Mark Stidham on camera! I’d love to know how that conversation went. Wow!

You are the boss of your business! — Hahahahaha. No, you’re not. MLMs are not legitimate small businesses. Period.

One of the commentators is Robert FitzPatrick – Author, MLM Expert – He was interviewed on Roberta Blevins’s excellent podcast, “Life After MLM.” He’s written two books on MLMs.

Independent fashion retailers — No, actually, you’re an independent contractor. And you have to pay taxes!

$5,000 buy-in (Say WHAT?!?!) Holy moly. This one blew my mind. What the fuck? I could do so much with $5,000 – So much!

Selling breast milk to afford start-up costs — Ummmmm. Yeah. That’s absolutely insane. Nope!

A million dollar company to a billion dollar company. — It grew way too fast, and no one was able to keep up. Plain and simple.

Weight loss surgery — What the actual fuck. No, no, no.

Roberta Blevins — Amazing woman! I have a link to her podcast above! She is awesome!

“Why are the leggings wet? Why does the whole house smell like dead fart leggings?“ — Right on, Roberta! Inferior product doesn’t sell!

“LuLaRoe tricked people into joining a pyramid scheme.“

Actual depositions from the State of Washington v. LLR — I laughed and cringed at the same time!

Mark spouting passages from the Book of Mormon — Yeah. Roberta was right. You are/were in a cult!

LLR logo is a pyramid!

DeAnne’s maiden name is “Startup.” Seriously!

DeAnne is the 10th of 11 children. She has a twin sister, Diane.

Mark is one of four kids. Never wanted to work a job or work for a boss. “When you’re an entrepreneur, there’s no upper limit.”

1988 – DeAnne went to a swap meet in California. Bought four dresses from a man. Started booking dress parties. The first party sold 300 dresses. DeAnne did that for 27 years.

She started making maxi skirts after her daughter asked for one. Sold 20,000 maxi skirts quickly. Mark started in production.

2012 – Brittany Hunter from Utah, came and got skirts out of DeAnne’s van. DeAnne and Mark officially formed LuLaRoe, LLC in 2013. The name comes from three of their granddaughters – Lucy, Lola, and Monroe.

What I really liked about LuLaRich was the group of people they interviewed. When I first saw the trailer, I was pretty sure the producers had only interviewed DeAnne, Mark, and both former and current fashion retailers. It was really nice to see journalists and other experts, too! And home office employees that really spilled the tea.

For those who may not know, MLMs have been around for a good long while. The first one in the United States was Nutrilite in the 1940s, and then they were purchased by Amway. Other MLMs include Tupperware, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Herbalife, and Rodan + Fields. But there are a lot more – I remember hearing for either this documentary or Roberta’s podcast that there are about 300 active MLM companies in the United States. And many of them have gone global to other countries. Ewwwwww.

What is really being sold is the opportunity.

You can only go about 13 levels, and you surpass the population of the Earth.

Even though MLMs have been around and growing since the 1940s, it’s really exploded in the last 10 years or so. It’s advertised primarily through social media.

Buy it for wholesale, sell it for retail. It’s not get-rich-quick. —- Yeahhhhhh. Right.

Mark: Underutilized resource of stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs). A lot of people of faith attracted to this business. It’s a pure meritocracy.

Meritocracy: Government or the holding of power by people selected on the basis of their ability.

Sam Schultz, DeAnne’s nephew, joined LLR in 2015 as the events director. Part of the same demographic as the fashion retailers. He hired Mario Lopez to present DeAnne with an award. The photos went viral, and 11,000 people wanted to join the company after that weekend.

2016 – LLR made over $70 million, and expanded to a new home office in Corona, California.

Catastrophic growth, corporate tornado.

“Helping families, blessing lives.” — Wow.


Episode 2 – Show Up

Image Credit: LuLaRich

LLR created a video called “5 Ways to Finance Your Start Up Costs.” The smallest initial package was $5,000. The largest was $11,000!! Examples: Open an interest-free credit card, sell your breast milk.

LLR home office employees! I honestly wasn’t expecting these people to be interviewed, but it was AWESOME. LaShae is my FAVORITE. Worked at Macy’s originally. She met DeAnne in the hallway, she had Chanel on. She marched her to the warehouse and picked out a few pieces because she wasn’t wearing LLR! She was wearing Chanel!!

Derryl Trujillo came to LLR after working for Steve Madden, and reffing and officiating high school volleyball too. He found the ad for data entry and customer service on Craigslist. He was placed in the email department, which was the first line of defense for the company. They tried to be the filter of the building. Mark and DeAnne were seldom around the office, the window seat had to look out for their cars. The family had six Mercedes vehicles. Eight-five to ninety percent (85-90%) of the sixth floor was the family. No one had a clue to run the company of that size. “Data entry” was a Google Doc spreadsheet. Everyone kept editing it, and things would change second to second!

Creating the compensation plan on the fly.

Onboarding team – Fill out your application for LLR, and you were put into the onboarding queue. The team would call these retailers and let them know they were now a part of the family. Mark had a quota. What do you need to onboard 500 people on a Saturday?

These prospective retailers had the LuLaRoe phone number saved as “LuLaRoe – Life Changing Call.”

The number of retailers just grew and grew and grew. By 2016, there were 15,000 retailers! By the end of 2016, there were over 60,000!!

Unicorn hunting – Because you could only pick sizes and the type of clothing, you never knew what prints you were going to get! There were limited prints, too. It was nuts watching the documentary! I participated in multiple Facebook Lives when I bought LLR from three different consultants, so I understand the frenzy!

They talked about the Leadership Bonus Plan. It went from Retailer to Sponsor to Trainer to Coach to Mentor. There was a huge push to recruit and to buy. Recruiting was emphasized. Roberta purchased $78,000 worth of clothing wholesale, and made $83,000 total. And that didn’t include her business expenses. She made $65,000 in bonuses! It’s really easy to see how lucrative this was!

Social media posts were always supposed to be positive, and then attributed to LuLaRoe! DeAnne would become upset if a post didn’t have the #becauseofLuLaRoe hashtag!

And then there were the LuLaRoe cruises! You had to qualify for the cruises, which meant you had to sell $12,000 worth of clothes per month. That’s crazy! But there are/were people who qualified for 5-6 cruises!


Episode 3 – Blow Up

Image Credit: A member from the Facebook group your MLM is not a small business, Karen. https://www.facebook.com/groups/166294847640193/?ref=share

Mark and DeAnne would go live online. Every single Tuesday, people would tune in! There was so much idol worship and celebrity.

People started realizing that there was a lot of control. A couple of people started putting the pieces together and thinking, “Oh my God I’m in a cult.”

Enter Becca Peter. She sells washi tape online. For fun, she researches LuLaRoe online. The sales tax was strange, that was her first clue.

LuLaRoe takes advantage of these feelings that women have – They want to be great moms to their kids, but also contribute to the household. It’s the opposite of empowering.

Some of these women started involving their husbands in their LuLaRoe world. And then there’s the “retire your husband” thing. I hate that with a burning passion. It’s another control thing!! Paul said it perfectly – It’s devious and sinister! You’re trapped!

Over 80 percent of people have no one underneath them in MLMs. In 2016, 70 percent of LLR consultants made NO MONEY – ZERO.

If everything is possible, nothing is true. It’s all a farce, a fallacy. The documentary didn’t really discuss the cost-sunk fallacy, but it’s true of all MLMs.

Then there’s the gastric sleeve. DeAnne and her sister, Lynnae, were recruiting women to go to Tijuana, Mexico to get the surgery! The group chat was called “Tijuana Skinny’s.” DeAnne got the surgery and is on video where she lost 72 pounds. Courtney Harwood from North Carolina was looking into it, and ultimately decided on the weight loss balloon surgery in the U.S. – She nearly died! And then she was told that the gastric sleeve was the way to go.

Then the number of retailers went up to 90,000. And if you weren’t making money, it wasn’t the obvious over-saturation of sellers, but it was because “you weren’t working hard enough.” How demoralizing is that!?

Roberta opened a box of inventory in 2016, and realized one item was soaking wet – One pair of leggings. A couple of shipments later, there was a horrible smell from the box. When filing a return request, one of the choices was “Stinky leggings.” Seriously! They were selling moldy leggings, and there was product outside, exposed to the elements. The Mentors went to the home office, and it was met with agitation and being dismissive.

The material was changing! The leggings were arriving with holes, or ripping apart after one hour. The material itself was thinner. The company claimed that they weren’t distributing old product, but they were. The design theft was rampant. They told designers to find a print, change two things, and then voila! It’s a new print!

If you complain or criticize, then you’re the loser. It highlights so many insecurities! Negativity is a big no-no. Use the delete button! People were being scolded like children. For most of the consultants, they were used and betrayed. In my opinion, there was also abuse! There was gaslighting and love bombing.


Episode 4 – Toe Up

In June 2017, LuLaRoe changed their bonus structure. It would be based on sales rather than ordering. The checks were cut in half almost overnight.

Complaints were rolling in, and the question of whether or not LLR was a pyramid scheme kept coming up. And then there was the return policy. The company implemented a 100 percent buyback policy. Consultants would get a full refund, and there was no expiration date.

A bunch of people joined, and then a lot of people left. It was a mass exodus. LLR paid over $100 million during that time. Then they reverted back to the original policy with an additional stipulation, and leaders were not eligible for refunds.

News coverage swelled. Social media groups exploded, such as “LuLaRoe Defective.” And then a few people started talking about hiring a class-action attorney. The reason? Withholding approved refunds is illegal.

The case started as a breach of contract case because they changed the buyback policy almost overnight. They started a website called LLR Class Action. The number of people who contacted the attorney was staggering.

There have been dozen of lawsuits filed against LLR, in multiple states. They were sued for defective leggings, and then copyright infringement. The MyDyer lawsuit basically called Mark and DeAnne outright scammers – One claim is that LLR owes them $49 MILLION DOLLARS. LLR is also tied to many LLCs, in multiple states. Many of them were set up simultaneously in 2017.

Then, in January 2019, a civil lawsuit was filed by the Washington State Attorney General. It alleged that LuLaRoe was operating as a pyramid scheme.

Depositions were taken from DeAnne, Mark, Kenny Brady, and Jordan Brady. They have absolved themselves of all blame and/or responsibility. In my humble opinion, they are all fucking scammers and greedy bastards. There, I said it. All of them are awful people. Mark, especially, reminded me of both of my abusive relationships. It’s all about the money!


Resources & More Information

How LuLaRoe cost some women their homes, cars, savings, and marriages | The New York Post (September 2021)

4 Shockingly Manipulative Work Moments in the ‘LuLaRich’ Documentary | HUFFPOST (September 2021)

Amazon’s ‘LuLaRich’ perfectly explains the demise of the girl boss | MSNBC Opinion (September 2021)

Why Women Are Quitting Their Side Hustle: Leaving LuLaRoe | VICE (May 2019)


Have you watched LuLaRich? If so, what did you think?

If you haven’t, are you planning on watching it?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #115: “Israel Eases Restrictions on Blood Donations By Gay Men”

Photo Credit: redcrosschat.org

This article, from ABC News and The Associated Press, published in mid-August, is news that is long overdue.

Israel eases restrictions on blood donations by gay men

Israel follows the U.K. and the U.S. in easing restrictions due to a decrease in needed blood supplies. The U.K. made their changes earlier this year to allow more gay and bisexual men to become donors, and the U.S. updated their screening questions in 2020.

The health history screening in Israel has been updated to use gender-neutral wording, and changing the timeframe from 12 months to three (3) months.

While I personally think that the overall restriction should be dropped entirely, I also understand the continued need to protect blood recipients. I have several gay, lesbian, and bisexual friends who have not donated because of these restrictions. Their argument is that blood products are now tested, and have been for years, for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other life-threatening infectious diseases. While this is true – Testing for HIV with the American Red Cross started in 1985 and has been reviewed and updated since then – I’m honestly not sure this restriction will ever be dropped entirely. It’s very rare that HIV Type 1 or 2 will come up after a single blood donation, but it has happened.


Resources

If you’re interested in giving blood or other blood products (platelets, plasma), visit these websites for more information.

United States – American Red Cross

Blood Donation Eligibility Requirements | American Red Cross

United States Blood Banks (not affiliated with the American Red Cross)

United Kingdom – NHS Blood and Transplant

Israel – MDA – National Blood Services

The easiest way to search is to type in “giving blood” plus the country that you reside in.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #32: Justice for George Floyd (Chauvin Guilty on All Counts)

Image Credit: Republic World

My hands are shaking as I write this post. I’m in disbelief. I never thought I would see and hear these words, live-streamed for all the world to witness:

Count I – Second-degree unintentional murder, GUILTY

Count II – Third-degree murder, GUILTY

Count III – Second-degree manslaughter, GUILTY

Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all charges in the death, the murder, of George Floyd that occurred on May 25, 2020.

I prayed before the verdict was read, feeling tears spring to my eyes. I couldn’t believe it when the first “Guilty” was read, I was stunned. And then I cheered. And then I cried. And I prayed again.

Chauvin’s bond was immediately revoked, and he was taken into custody.


I reflected on this in my post, Hot Topic #30, on June 4, 2020. Thankfully, less than a year later, I’m writing a post in relief and happiness that this verdict was actually reached.


With all that said, there is still more work to be done.

“The healing work begins,” spoken over and over in George Floyd Square in Minneapolis this afternoon.

Black Lives Matter.


Resources

The BIPOC Project

Black Lives Matter

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

BIPOC-Owned Businesses to Support Today and Everyday


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #94: “Courtney: Friendship Superhero”

I wasn’t surprised at all when I powered through Courtney’s second book on Monday night before bed.

This book opens in the last few days of school of the 1985-1986 school year. The Hands Across America event is held, raising money for hunger and homelessness.

Courtney goes to the arcade, and continuing to work on her Crystal Starshooter character and levels of her video game. She meets a new friend, Isaac. He’s an even better video game player. Courtney eventually learns he’s also a talented artist.

As she navigates the waters of family and friendship, Courtney learns that Issac has an illness called HIV. Requests for privacy turn into anger about keeping secrets. Courtney feels like her friendship with Sarah, her best friend, is falling apart.

This book expertly navigated the fears of HIV and AIDS in 1986. I immediately drew parallels between Isaac and Ryan White, a teenager in Indiana who contracted HIV in 1984 through contaminated clotting factor that he received for hemophilia.

Courtney learns several lessons about true friendship along the way, even though she gets entrenched in the fight over Isaac and the local residents wanting to keep him out of school. How awful that these families and children faced such horrible discrimination, just like Ryan White and his family did.

The fun part of the story is when Courtney discovers the first Pleasant Company catalog, and falls in love with Molly McIntire!

I’m not sure if there will be more Courtney books, because American Girl revamped their book line several years ago. They changed the original six-book format to two longer books. This one covers the summer, fall, and winter of 1986.

However, I’m inspired to re-read Ryan White’s autobiography, Ryan White: My Own Story, and learn more about the 1980s. I was born in 1988, so I’ve always been intrigued by events that happened around the time I was born, and things that happened before I started forming core memories.

5 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #232: My Favorite Things of 2020

Image Credit: Quote Master

So, before starting the lists of favorites, here’s my tally for books and Book Reviews for 2020:


Now, on to my favorites!

Favorite Books

Favorite Movies

  • 13th (Netflix)
  • Knives Out
  • Onward (This was the last movie we saw in theaters before COVID-19 took hold!)
  • Soul (Disney+)
  • Spotlight (Netflix)
  • The Vast of Night (Amazon Prime Video)

Favorite TV Shows

  • Forensic Files (Netflix)
  • Hoarders (YouTube)
  • How to Fix a Drug Scandal (Netflix)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – Seasons 7 – 8 (Hulu)
  • McMillions (HBO Max)
  • Murder on Middle Beach (HBO Max)
  • Stargirl (The CW)
  • Stranger Things – Re-watched all seasons (Netflix)
  • Supermarket Sweep (Netflix and YouTube)
  • The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix)
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – Season 1 (HBO Max)
  • The Innocence Files (Netflix)
  • The Mandalorian – Seasons 1 and 2 (Disney+)

Favorite Podcasts

  • Atlanta Monster
  • Crimes of Passion
  • Dateline NBC
  • Female Criminals
  • Forensic Files
  • Helping Writers Become Authors
  • Just Us For Y’All
  • Killer Knowledge
  • Monster: DC Sniper
  • Morbid
  • Murder in Oregon
  • Small Town Dicks
  • Spying on Humanity
  • StoryCorps
  • The FRONTLINE Dispatch
  • The Way I Heard It

Well, that wraps up my favorite things for 2020!

What about you? What were some of your favorite things of the year?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #91: “Just Mercy”

I was fortunate enough to find my copy through a friend’s store on eBay. I’d heard about the book for a good while, and knew I wanted to see the movie. But, I’m the type of person that likes to read the book before seeing the movie.

Bryan Stevenson is an incredible man. This book is not only a memoir, but a history lesson.

Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School, moved to Atlanta, and then heard about a man on death row named Walter McMillan. He moved to Alabama to run the Southern Center for Human Rights operation in Montgomery. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). As of August 2016, EJI has saved 125 men from death.

It took me a lot longer than usual to finish this book. I wanted to take my time with it. Ever since the murder of George Floyd in May, I’ve wanted to learn as much as I can about people of color. This book is no exception – Stevenson writes about the appalling history of slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, disproportionate arrests and heavy sentences, and the struggle of getting relief and overturned convictions for significant sentences, along with wrongfully imprisoned people.

Stevenson’s stories of these people on death row in multiple states, mostly men, but also a few women, were heartbreaking. Some were sentenced to death for crimes that were committed when they were children. Others were prosecuted to the maximum, when the laws that should have shielded them were blatantly ignored. There are more than a few people with physical and intellectual disabilities on death row in the United States.

This is a book that I think everyone should read. Even though it was published in 2014, it is definitely still relevant today.

I’m looking forward to seeing the movie adaptation soon.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂