A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett
An inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity and an urgent call to free those buried alive by America’s unjust legal system–from a gifted young lawyer whose journey marks the emergence of a powerful new voice in the movement to transform the system.
Brittany K. Barnett was only a law student when she came across the case that would change her life forever–that of Sharanda Jones, single mother, business owner, and, like Brittany, a black daughter of the rural South. A victim of America’s ruthless and devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn from the arms of her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole–all for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of her own life, both as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and the one-time girlfriend of an abusive drug dealer. As she studied Sharanda’s case, a system slowly came into focus: one where widespread racial injustice forms the core of our country’s addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda’s plight, Brittany began to work towards her freedom.
This had never been the plan. Bright and ambitious, Brittany was already a successful accountant with her sights set on a high-powered future in corporate law. But Sharanda’s case opened the door to a harrowing journey through the criminal justice system, in which people could be locked up for life under misguided appeals for law and order. Driven by the realization that her clients’ fates could have easily been her own, Brittany soon found herself on a quest to unlock the human potential of those our society has forgotten how to see. Living a double life, she moved billion-dollar corporate deals by day, and by night worked pro bono to free Sharanda and others in near-impossible legal battles. Ultimately, her journey transformed her understanding of injustice in the courts, of genius languishing behind bars, and the very definition of freedom itself. A Knock at Midnight is Brittany’s riveting, inspirational memoir, at once a coming-of-age story and a powerful evocation of what it takes to bring hope and justice to a system built to resist both at every turn.
September 8th, 2020
Non-Fiction/Human Rights Law/Race Relations
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A Knock at Midnight ended up being a timely and insightful book that is part memoir and part a deep dive into the flaws of our judicial system in America, particularly for people of color.
Currently, racism in our country often hides under the surface through systemic injustices that are not always easy to see at first glance. A place these systemic injustices are incredibly prevalent is in our American justice system. Author Brittany Barnett sought to make changes after seeing the harsh prison sentencing her own mother faced for possession of drugs as a black woman. This inhumane incarceration had devastating emotional effects on Barnett and her family.
Ultimately, Barnett took these life-changing childhood experiences and worked towards helping other families as she pursued her goal of attaining her own law degree to advocate for change. She shares her personal stories of what drug addiction looked like in her own family, and also how our country responded during Reagan’s “war on drugs” in the 1980s which disproportionately affected people of color with much harsher sentencing for minor felonies.
Barnett became a crusader for change and A Knock at Midnight shares the fights she took on with her own clients in the quest to find justice, showing just how powerful even one voice can be. Barnett is a survivor and her own resiliency not only helped shape her own life but so many others along the way.
Through her own pro-bono work and her non-profits The Buried Alive Project and G.E.M, Girls Embracing Mothers, Barnett has made an impact on so many. This book is compelling, eye-opening, and shows the power of just one person, in the fight for social justice and long-lasting change.
Thank you to Crown Publishing for a gifted copy in change for my honest review. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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