84 pages 2 hours read

Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2014

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.


Just Mercy

  • Genre: Nonfiction; memoir
  • Originally Published: 2014
  • Reading Level/Interest: College/Adult
  • Structure/Length: 16 chapters; approx. 336 pages; 11 hours and 11 minutes on audio
  • Central Concern: Details the author’s experience as a young lawyer fighting for equality in the criminal justice system, particularly concerning the case of Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Capital punishment; racism; detailed descriptions of executions

Bryan Stevenson, Author

  • Bio: Born in and currently resides in Alabama; founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; professor of law at NYU Law School; spearheaded the creation of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in 2018; his memoir, Just Mercy, has been adapted into a film
  • Other Works: A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality, and the Law (2018)
  • Awards: The Fitzgerald Prize for Literary Excellence (2021); Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize (2018); Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction (2015); the American Psychiatric Association Human Rights Award (2012); New York University’s Distinguished Teaching Award (2006); MacArthur Fellow (1995)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • Institutionalized Racism
  • Justice
  • Mercy

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Gain an understanding of the social, cultural, and historical contexts that shape and perpetuate the inequalities—particularly racial bias against Black Americans—that are embedded within the American criminal justice system, explored by author Bryan Stevenson in Just Mercy.