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A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine innocents during their closing prayer horrified the nation. Two days later, some relatives of the dead stood at Roof’s hearing and said, “I forgive you.” That grace offered the country a hopeful ending to an awful story. But for the survivors and victims’ families, the journey had just begun. In Grace Will Lead Us Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes provides a definitive account of the tragedy’s aftermath. With unprecedented access to the grieving families and other key figures, Hawes offers a nuanced and moving portrait of the events and emotions that emerged in the massacre’s wake. The two adult survivors of the shooting begin to make sense of their lives again. Rifts form between some of the victims’ families and the church. A group of relatives fights to end gun violence, capturing the attention of President Obama. And a city in the Deep South must confront its racist past. This is the story of how, beyond the headlines, a community of people begins to heal. An unforgettable and deeply human portrait of grief, faith, and forgiveness, Grace Will Lead Us Home is destined to be a classic in the finest tradition of journalism.


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A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 17, 2015, twelve members of the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina welcomed a young white man to their evening Bible study. He arrived with a pistol, 88 bullets, and hopes of starting a race war. Dylann Roof’s massacre of nine innocents during their closing prayer horrified the nation. Two days later, some relatives of the dead stood at Roof’s hearing and said, “I forgive you.” That grace offered the country a hopeful ending to an awful story. But for the survivors and victims’ families, the journey had just begun. In Grace Will Lead Us Home, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes provides a definitive account of the tragedy’s aftermath. With unprecedented access to the grieving families and other key figures, Hawes offers a nuanced and moving portrait of the events and emotions that emerged in the massacre’s wake. The two adult survivors of the shooting begin to make sense of their lives again. Rifts form between some of the victims’ families and the church. A group of relatives fights to end gun violence, capturing the attention of President Obama. And a city in the Deep South must confront its racist past. This is the story of how, beyond the headlines, a community of people begins to heal. An unforgettable and deeply human portrait of grief, faith, and forgiveness, Grace Will Lead Us Home is destined to be a classic in the finest tradition of journalism.

30 review for Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    When I read a review by my Friend Brandice, and saw 5 stars from my other Friend Susan, I decided to request this book from Overdrive despite being aware that this would not be an easy summer read. Another reason was that I happened to be in the USA when this tragedy occurred and followed it on television. I was shocked as as it was the first time I had been so relatively close and the live tv broadcast made me feel terribly upset. The killing of 9 out 12 people who were praying and studying the When I read a review by my Friend Brandice, and saw 5 stars from my other Friend Susan, I decided to request this book from Overdrive despite being aware that this would not be an easy summer read. Another reason was that I happened to be in the USA when this tragedy occurred and followed it on television. I was shocked as as it was the first time I had been so relatively close and the live tv broadcast made me feel terribly upset. The killing of 9 out 12 people who were praying and studying the Bible in a temple was a most appaling and heinous deed that one can imagine. This book gives a full account of the events, together with the details of the nine victims and their families, of the hell they went through and the trial itself. The relatives of the victims showed enormous stamina and I felt for them, the more that although their beloved ones were killed in church, their relatives did not receive too much spiritual assistance for a long time and some of them never returned to Mother Emanuel. The Author did a thorough research while writing this book and we are offered an most insightful account of this senseless and brutal mass murder.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brandice

    Given its subject, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness was tough to read though very well-written. Devastating and terrible are the only words to describe what happened. I cannot fathom enduring what the victims and their families went through - and are still going through in their grief today, 4 years later. Grace Will Lead Us Home describes Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (aka: Mother Emanuel), its parishioners, the Given its subject, Grace Will Lead Us Home: The Charleston Church Massacre and the Hard, Inspiring Journey to Forgiveness was tough to read though very well-written. Devastating and terrible are the only words to describe what happened. I cannot fathom enduring what the victims and their families went through - and are still going through in their grief today, 4 years later. Grace Will Lead Us Home describes Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church (aka: Mother Emanuel), its parishioners, the local community, and home city of Charleston. The book details the deadly evening on June 17, 2015 as well as the aftermath - Who were the victims? How did their families survive? What happened at the shooter’s trial? How did this event impact Charleston? “This is a tragedy no community should have to experience,” he said, the firm tone of his words edged tightly with sorrow and determination. “It is senseless, and it is unfathomable that somebody in today’s society would walk into a church when people are having a prayer meeting and take their lives.” Though the topic is heartbreaking, Jennifer Berry Hawes paints a vivid picture of the victims, their lives, the survivors, and the trial. I am in awe of the victims’ families’ forgiveness, some of which was offered right away. I don’t think I would ever be able to do that. Through Hawes’ writing, I felt like I was hearing directly from the survivors and sitting in the courtroom, watching the trial myself. It was also disappointing and at parts, infuriating, to see what Goff, the first new pastor at Mother Emanuel following the shooting, was up to and the gross mismanagement of donations received by the church for the victims’ families. ”Their portion was $150,340. Emanuel leaders had announced several months ago that well-wishers sent roughly $3.4 million to the church.” Goff seems shady AF - Yeah I said it, and my internet research after I finished this book did nothing to dissuade me of that notion. While some of the survivors were able to return to Mother Emanuel in time, Goff and the church’s questionable actions following the tragedy ultimately led others to seek out new churches to continue their worship elsewhere. As I read about this, it just seemed like an unnecessary blow on top of everything else they already had to endure. Reverend Pinckney’s wife, Jennifer, shared she felt robbed of a life with her husband, yet she still made every effort to provide a sense of normalcy for their two young daughters. The strength to forgive and the brave attempt to move on by the Mother Emmanuel survivors and their families is truly admirable. ”Through its two-hundred-year history, this congregation had survived slavery, segregation, wars, a massive earthquake, hangings, and fires set by white racists. They would show the world that while devastated, Emanuel wasn’t destroyed now, either. Evil had entered this sacred space, but Emanuel still meant “God with us.” Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing an advance copy of Grace Will Lead Us Home in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    It was about fifteen years ago that a stranger came to church and after worship service was directed to the young adult Sunday School class. He sat quietly during the discussion. Then he spoke up, asking what the church believed about a divisive social issue. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds before I was inspired to answer. I explained the official denomination's Social Principles. And I explained the wide range of personal beliefs that our community included. As we broke up, the man It was about fifteen years ago that a stranger came to church and after worship service was directed to the young adult Sunday School class. He sat quietly during the discussion. Then he spoke up, asking what the church believed about a divisive social issue. There was a stunned silence for a few seconds before I was inspired to answer. I explained the official denomination's Social Principles. And I explained the wide range of personal beliefs that our community included. As we broke up, the man asked to see the pastor and asked him the same question. The pastor was my husband. He explained the church doctrine and he gave his personal belief. The man nodded and said it was clear that the church was under the leadership of Satan. He was a quiet-spoken man and I do not recall any high emotion from his face or voice as he told us that he would return the following Sunday to proclaim to the world that this was a church lead by Satan. My husband conferred with church leaders and word got to a church member who was our state Senator. Her family were active members of the church and she reported the incident to the city police. They knew this man and said he was likely 'off his meds.' It was a fretful week. I was concerned that the man would return through the open doors and wreak havoc. Would he be violent? Would he have a gun? I pictured him walking up the aisle of the church, backlit by the summer sunshine coming in through the open double doors of the church, the risen Christ in stained glass above the entry. Sunday came and the police arrived and kept the man across the street. As the man shouted out his condemnation our church family drew strength and solidarity, from the teenagers to our septuagenarian WWII veteran whose wife restrained him from crossing the street and confronting the man. Churchs have conflicts and splits and bickering and disagreements. They are human institutions and filled with imperfect people. But the idea of a stranger entering and threatening lives was appalling. Yet it happens too often. Recently, there have been attacks on African American churches and a synagogue. It happened this past week in Sri Lanka and as I finished writing this a California synagogue was victimized by a hate crime attack. Our places of worship should be--are expected to be--safe havens for the church community and for the strangers who they welcome. Jennifer Berry Hawes wrote Grace Will Lead Us Home to "convey the sheer scope of devastation that mass tragedies sow in the lives of everyday people." The Charleston Church Massacre is a haunting tragedy. A stranger came to a Bible Study and murdered nine people. The reason Dylann Roof gave for his crime was that he "had to" do it. Indoctrinated by white supremacist website propaganda, Roof felt propelled to do something to reverse integration. The impact on the personal lives of the congregation was devastating. Hawes tells the story of the survivors and the families of the deceased; we get to know them as people we care about. For these people of faith, forgiveness is a Christian requirement they took seriously, forgiving Dylann Roof. What did that cost them to say those words! And what freedom was gained in letting go? The narrative power of the book was overwhelming, even if sad and disturbing. Set within the larger picture, I learned about Charleston's history of slavery, the birth and decline of Emmanuel AME Church, the history of racism and the backlash against segregation. It took this tragedy to retire the Confederate flag from the courthouse. The portrait of Dylann Roof was mystifying. His social intelligence allowed him to manipulate his parents and yet he could not make friends and avoided eye contact. Was he autistic? The massacre was horrific and tragic. And I was sorely disappointed by the lack of compassion and support offered from the AME church leadership. As Emmanuel's pastor was a victim, an interim pastor was appointed. His abuse of power was unimaginable. Grace Will Lead Us Home is a moving portrayal of a community in crisis and recovery. I received an egalley from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Diane Barnes

    I should start a new shelf for book club assignments that I really didn't want to read but then ended up liking. Because that's where this book would go. I live in the Charleston area and between the TV coverage and in-depth newspaper articles at the time of the massacre and during the trial, I believed I knew all I needed to know about this hate crime and the people involved. But no. Jennifer Berry Hawes has given us a book of such beauty and respect, not just for the victims and their families, I should start a new shelf for book club assignments that I really didn't want to read but then ended up liking. Because that's where this book would go. I live in the Charleston area and between the TV coverage and in-depth newspaper articles at the time of the massacre and during the trial, I believed I knew all I needed to know about this hate crime and the people involved. But no. Jennifer Berry Hawes has given us a book of such beauty and respect, not just for the victims and their families, but for the city of Charleston, that I had to read through teary eyes for many of the chapters. Her research and interviews were extensive, and her writing style captured the immediacy of the crime and courtroom scenes that put me in a "you are there" frame of mind while reading. An excellent book about a horrific mass shooting that gives us the who, what, when, where, why and how, but taps into the emotions as well.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Risher

    Jennifer is such a gifted writer and story teller. Since, I’m mentioned in the book, I was overwhelmed of how she captured the true essence of who I am and how she showed the family members as regular people who had heart wrenching stories after such a tradgey. Great read!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    I finished this book at 1:30am and spent the rest of the night [when I was not sleeping, which was a lot of the rest of the night] thinking about what to write in this review - to do this amazing book justice. To do the victims justice. To honor both the victims and the survivors. To impart to all those who are looking at this book just how important it is to pick this book up and read it. And feel it. Learn from it. And then turn around and both pass this book on to someone else and use what th I finished this book at 1:30am and spent the rest of the night [when I was not sleeping, which was a lot of the rest of the night] thinking about what to write in this review - to do this amazing book justice. To do the victims justice. To honor both the victims and the survivors. To impart to all those who are looking at this book just how important it is to pick this book up and read it. And feel it. Learn from it. And then turn around and both pass this book on to someone else and use what they have learned to help and support someone who is dealing with the aftermath of violence and racial hatred. And here it is almost 12 hours later and I am still struggling to find the right words... I had many, many emotions throughout this book - much sorrow, anger, frustration and then sorrow once again. Sorrow for these families and their loss. Sorrow for the loss of innocence for the beloved granddaughter who Felicia Sanders saved that night as she watched her beloved aunt and son die in front of her. Sorry for the survivors. There were many tears shed while reading this book. But there was also anger [I feel bad for those who know me because I ranted a LOT while reading this]. Lots and lots of anger - anger at the killer [I refuse to name him and give him any more power], anger at how the "church" handled the aftermath of the shooting and effectively abandoned the families of the victims AND the survivors and anger at the attitude just weeks later that it was business as usual in that city while people were still grieving and trying to figure out how to walk through life. And there was anger at some of the families themselves, that could and would not see past their own selves to heal the wounds within their families to be able to grieve together and heal together. There was a lot of anger and tears over those sections of the book. I pray that the victim's families and the survivors have found some semblance of peace [forgiveness gives you that, but you often have to work on that daily - sometimes even minute by minute] and are going to be able to move on in remembrance of what happened, but with peace in their hearts. I know from the epilogue that it doesn't happen for everyone, but again, forgiveness ties into that too. You can only move on and heal when you are willing to forgive those who will never receive it or ask for it back and when you are willing to pray over someone and blessings on someone who never, ever, deserves it. I would be remiss in this review if I didn't talk about how this book is also one on race and just how America still responds to acts of violence against African American people. Against people of color. Against anyone who they view as different because of skin color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and just how frustrating that is - that in 2019 we still have to have these conversations. This is another reason that this book is SO important. We NEED to keep these discussions alive - we NEED to learn from events such as this to move forward in acceptance and love and caring. We are ALL human beings and we need to be reminded of that. And no one passage brings this home more than the one below [it is near the end of the book] that I am including here, because for me, it shows perfectly just HOW FAR we still have to go. And to be honest, that is a very, very, sad thing. "And almost three years to the day after Roof slipped into Bible study, in the historical epicenter of America's slave trade, Charleston's City Council did something unimaginable before the massacre. Its members voted, albeit narrowly, to apologize on behalf of the city for its role in the institution of slavery. Many hailed the movie as an important step toward healing. Yet, among the five councilmen who opposed it - all but one of them white men - most said they wouldn't apologize for something they hadn't done [**SIDE-NOTE BY ME This is an example that is shown throughout this book - so many white people claiming that slavery had been good or that slaves had not been mistreated pops up again and again in this book as people were interviewed about the shooting. THIS was one of the most frustrating parts - just how blind people were to the past and to what was happening STILL at their own front doors]. As one former councilman asked: Why should we do it when so much of what we'd be apologizing for happened so long ago?"" <--And that folks is the crux of the issue. Until we who are white see the need to apologize, not only for the past, but for the present, we will always have people like the killer who think killing people of color is not only okay, but needed. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Barbara H

    This is a meticulously written, multi-faceted account of another one of our tragic,senseless massacres. Clearly, innocent, hardworking individuals, their families and the community have suffered from this. Much admiration goes out to this author for her sensitivity and endurance.

  8. 5 out of 5

    HR-ML

    A powerful & emotional read. 4.5 stars. 12 church members attended the Weds night Bible class @ the historically black Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. A quiet, thin, white guy, Dylann Roof, joined them. Unknown to them he was a white supremist packing a Glock pistol & magazines containing 88 bullets. Looking to start a race war. At the Bible study conclusion, all hell broke loose. He murdered 9 people: Rev. Pinckney (Pastor +state senator), Rev. Simmons (retired), Myrna Thompson (a new mi A powerful & emotional read. 4.5 stars. 12 church members attended the Weds night Bible class @ the historically black Emanuel AME church in Charleston, S.C. A quiet, thin, white guy, Dylann Roof, joined them. Unknown to them he was a white supremist packing a Glock pistol & magazines containing 88 bullets. Looking to start a race war. At the Bible study conclusion, all hell broke loose. He murdered 9 people: Rev. Pinckney (Pastor +state senator), Rev. Simmons (retired), Myrna Thompson (a new minister), Rev. DePayne Doctor (Baptist minister), Cynthia Hurd, Sharonda Singleton, "Wanza" Sanders, Susie Jackson & Ethel Carter. Rev Simmons had a gun, but it was in his car. Felicia, a member of the conger- gation lost son Wanza, Aunt Susie, & cousin Ethel. Dylann's father did not trust him to: get/ keep a job, ease up on his dependence on alcohol, pot & cocaine. But his father trusted mentally unstable Dylann w/ a Glock gun! Dad pd for the gun and the concealed carry permit. Duh, dad! Dylann eventually received the death penalty in federal court. Cards, gift cards, checks, sympathy cards, Bibles etc were sent to the spouses/ fam of the 9 victims c/o Emanuel AME. Some were addressed to the church alone. Interim then Pastor Rev. Goff didn't keep an accurate accounting of these funds, espec. those earmarked for the Emanuel 9 survivor spouses (all but 1 church members.) All mail was opened at AME church, no mater to whom it was addressed. Goff created the Moving Forward Fund @ the church, which accumulated $2M+. Each of the 9 survivors rec'd $150 K from this fund. What about a criminal case against Goff? postal fraud case? Unknown to 9 survivors & congregation as a whole, Goff was accused of defrauding his last 2 congregations (how did he stay a minister?) & it looked like he did likewise to Emanuel AME. If true, a low blow to an already grieving congregation. This Rev also did v little grief-counseling. The 9 survivors showed tremendous emotional strength & the ability to forgive the perp. They and other church members were subjected to media coverage. The 9 survivors had some help via angels on earth : Debbie Dills employed by a florist spotted Dylann's car & reported it to police, 2nd Presbyterian's Rev. Cress Darin counseled some AME survivors, a local policewoman Antonio had a Bible restored for Felicia Sanders (blood removed, but a bullethole remained.) Gov. Nikki Haley got the Confederate flag removed from the front of the statehouse (via a state legislature vote) and placed instead in the Military Museum. Revised.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    This book was difficult to read at times, but I'm so glad I did. It paints a beautiful, real picture of strength and grace in the face of horrific hate. The accounts of the events at Mother Emanuel and all that followed were eye-opening and gripping. I do wish the author had left out some of the internal family drama of the victims' families, mainly because reading it felt voyeuristic. They have been through plenty. But her narrative of the shooting and then everything that followed was extremel This book was difficult to read at times, but I'm so glad I did. It paints a beautiful, real picture of strength and grace in the face of horrific hate. The accounts of the events at Mother Emanuel and all that followed were eye-opening and gripping. I do wish the author had left out some of the internal family drama of the victims' families, mainly because reading it felt voyeuristic. They have been through plenty. But her narrative of the shooting and then everything that followed was extremely well written. There are no easy answers to the questions raised by this event, but reading this helped me think through some of them.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Anna Clark

    Superb journalism. All victims, families, and places involved in mass shootings deserve this level of care and thoughtful examination.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: An account of the massacre of nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, and the responses of survivors and surviving families, notably the forgiveness offered, and the impact on the families, the church, and the Charleston community. Jennifer Berry Hawes is a Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist for the Post and Courier, based in Charleston, South Carolina. She not only was one of those who covered the fateful events of June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof was welc Summary: An account of the massacre of nine people at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston by Dylann Roof, and the responses of survivors and surviving families, notably the forgiveness offered, and the impact on the families, the church, and the Charleston community. Jennifer Berry Hawes is a Pulitzer Prize investigative journalist for the Post and Courier, based in Charleston, South Carolina. She not only was one of those who covered the fateful events of June 17, 2015, when Dylann Roof was welcomed into a Bible study at Emanuel A.M.E. church by Pastor Clementa Pinckney (also a state senator) and eleven others. He had planned the killing for six months, sat with the group for an hour as Myra Thompson led a study of the Parable of the Soils, and when they bowed to pray, he executed nine of them, firing a total of 77 rounds. His hope was to move from all the talk on white supremacist websites to ignite a race war.  Three survived from that circle. Polly Sanders was "allowed" to live by the killer to tell the story. Felicia Sanders covered her granddaughter, smearing herself with her son Tywanza's blood, playing dead, while she watches him crawl toward "Aunt Susie" and as he takes his last breath, speaking his love for Felicia . Nearby, Clementa Pinckney's wife Jennifer and her daughter Malana sheltered in an office, after hearing the first gunshot, followed by an "Ugh." What they heard was husband and father Clementa dying. Roof escaped. Hawes takes us through the aftermath, as officers swarm the scene, the most horrific most had ever seen. She traces the mounting fears of the families of those in the church as they awaited news, and then heard the worst. We see a city on edge, particularly in light of the recent police involved shooting by Officer Michael Slager of unarmed Walter Scott following a traffic stop. Then comes the tip to Roof's location, and his apprehension--no shots fired despite his slaughter of nine. Hawes recounts the electric moment at Roof's bond hearing as he stands expressionless while first Nadine Collier, daughter of Ethel Lance, and Anthony Thompson, a pastor and husband of Myra, forgive Roof and urge him to repent. Not all were ready to do that but many were, to the wonder of the police chief and others. This began a chain of events including a unity rally of blacks and whites in Charleston, the taking down of the Confederate flag at the initiative of Governor Nikki Haley on the capitol grounds, and the memorable address of President Barack Obama, delivering the eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, speaking of the amazing grace shown by survivors and family, the undeserved grace granted a racist nation, concluding with Obama leading the assembled congregation in singing "Amazing Grace." Hawes describes not only the inspiring but the darker aspects of the aftermath of these killings: family conflicts, handling of donations intended for victim families, lapses of pastoral care, and lives like that of Cynthia Hurd's husband Stephen that would never be the same, and the struggle of others to forgive. Roof's trial and death sentence helped bring closure, although many, as Christians, opposed the death sentence, to give Roof every opportunity to repent and believe. The granting of forgiveness, particularly to Roof, who refused it was controversial within victim families and more widely, and yet is a theme running through the book. The "amazing grace" many showed in the face of such evil brought wonder to many and seemed to have inspired at least some of the subsequent acts. Yet I found myself wondering if this was yet one more incident of healing the wounds of America's original sin of racism lightly. I do not question the decision of those who forgave. They acted out of deep conviction of lives shaped by a Christ who forgave his enemies as his blood was poured out on a cross. I don't think any of us are worthy to question what these families did. What I do question is the response of a nation turning this into an inspiring, "feel good" moment, quickly banished from the mind. Hawes helps us explore the darker underside of racism that we struggle as a nation to face, or whose existence we deny. She reminds us of Charleston's history as the greatest port of entry for slaves, and the place where the Civil War began, and the continued embrace of the Confederate flag. She raises questions about how many young men are raised to hate, how a young man like Dylann Roof searching "black on white crime" was directed by search engines to white supremacist hate groups rather than FBI statistics. One of the most moving stories was the response of police lieutenant Jennie Antonio, when she heard that Felicia Sanders was pleading to have her bullet pierced, blood stained Bible returned. Antonio sifted through biohazard materials in an FBI facilities and found the Bible, sent it to a Texas company that salvaged such materials. Two months later, that Bible was delivered to Sanders, a barely visible tear where the bullet had penetrated, a faint pinkish tinge that tinted the pages, but still God's words. When Roof was sentenced, she carried that Bible as she spoke: My Bible, abused--abused, torn, shot up. When I look at the Bible, I see blood Jesus shed for me. And for you, Dylann Roof." I'm reminded of a Bible that was once my grandmother's, probably looks much like Sanders Bible. She, like Felicia, loved the Bible, underlined many verses and wrote notes in the margins. She lived the Bible. I wonder how many in our churches are truly shaped by its message like the people in that Bible study, or like my grandmother. Instead of the disturbing messages that prey on fear, do they hear the Master's "be not afraid." Do they build walls or welcome the stranger and the alien? Instead of profiting from inequities, defining the world in terms of allies and enemies, and measuring one's worth by what power one has, do they "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)? Hawes rendering of this story sensitively uncovers not only the sequence of events in Charleston but the deeper spiritual values of Mother Emanuel's people, and the challenge of that spirituality for the rest of us. Will we listen to this deeper wisdom or continue to be drawn into the divisive rhetoric? Hawes' narrative leaves me with that question.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caleb

    I like Hawes’ ability to keep the story focused on the victims. Hawes thankfully did not take the approach of the Magistrate judge who begged for compassion for the Roof family. Mr. & Mrs. Roof raised at least two racist children who caused mayhem against the state of S.C. Dylann was a 9th grade dropout who felt his skin color made him superior to his victims although he couldn’t put a sentence together devoid of grammatical or spelling errors. Dylann couldn’t hold a job and was socially awkward I like Hawes’ ability to keep the story focused on the victims. Hawes thankfully did not take the approach of the Magistrate judge who begged for compassion for the Roof family. Mr. & Mrs. Roof raised at least two racist children who caused mayhem against the state of S.C. Dylann was a 9th grade dropout who felt his skin color made him superior to his victims although he couldn’t put a sentence together devoid of grammatical or spelling errors. Dylann couldn’t hold a job and was socially awkward. Google’s algorithms were addressed as the launch pad for Roof’s obsessive mindset. Google’s algorithms pushed Roof to discover the Council of Conservative Citizens and the Storm Front website. One can’t help but wonder the outcome if Google had pushed factual FBI statistics about Roof’s “black on white crimes” search. Algorithms seem to be the modern day propaganda that continue to polarize the citizenry. Many of the bigoted S.C. leadership were mentioned in this book (e.g. Arthur Ravenell Jr., John Amassa May, Joe Wilson, Henry McMaster, Mick Mulvaney, Lee Bright, Peeler, Wheeler, Nikki Haley). Even S.C.’s clone of Clarence Thomas, Tim Scott, was mentioned as grabbing a piece of the political spotlight amid the crisis. I feel Nikki Haley used the death of Walter Scott and the Mother Emmanuel victims for her own political gain. If one goes back and views the video of her speech, not one actual tear fell! I found it jaw dropping the family of Walter Scott received $6.5 million after police officer, Michael Slager, murdered him and the AME clergy kept a large portion of the Mother Emanuel victim’s funds. I wish so many would wake up and realize clergy has a self fulfilling agenda. It was sad to hear after the traumatic domestic terrorism executed by Roof, none of the clergy reached out to the victims. The survivors and victim’s families shouldn’t have to seek financial justice from religious leaders after enduring so much pain.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Doty

    It seemed very ironic that just a couple of days after I started reading this book, there were two more mass shootings in America, one (at an El Paso Walmart) of which was clearly racially motivated, just like the massacre at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. Therefore, this book, which already held special relevance to me since I knew one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, became even more compelling. The author, Jennifer Berry Hawes, is a journalist at the Charleston Post & Courier, and h It seemed very ironic that just a couple of days after I started reading this book, there were two more mass shootings in America, one (at an El Paso Walmart) of which was clearly racially motivated, just like the massacre at the Emanuel AME in Charleston. Therefore, this book, which already held special relevance to me since I knew one of the victims, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, became even more compelling. The author, Jennifer Berry Hawes, is a journalist at the Charleston Post & Courier, and her detailed account of the shooting, its victims, the perpetrator, and the trial, is written with the descriptive, objective eye of a professional journalist. Yet her command of the details is only part of what makes this book a terrific read--it is also her deep knowledge, and understanding, of Charleston's history, which provides nuanced and important context to this horrible racial crime. While some positive things came from this shooting, perhaps most importantly the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina State Capitol, its violent and senseless nature should remind us all that white supremacy is alive and well in the United States, and that people of color (especially blacks) constantly live under the long shadow of fear and brutality that was cast by the institution of slavery in this country. The book is also a great illustration of how easy it is for bigoted and reckless individuals to purchase and own firearms in the United States, and how tragic the consequences can be as a result of our political unwillingness to enact any type of reasonable gun control. Having lived in South Carolina from 2000-2005, and seen first-hand the virulent racism that still exists in many parts of that state, I was deeply saddened by the events described in this book. That said, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the black experience in America and the shadowy forces of the Internet and elsewhere that are actively recruiting the young and uneducated to become violent domestic terrorists.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    This was my next audiobook choice and it was a very good one – I was guided by the fact that it won an Audie Award for Best General Nonfiction. It is an account not only of the massacre of nine Black worshippers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church in 2016, but of what followed: the national and local responses, the arrest and trial of Dylann Roof, and the incredibly painful journey of the survivors and the bereaved. This last is probably the most powerful element of the book. Although forgiveness This was my next audiobook choice and it was a very good one – I was guided by the fact that it won an Audie Award for Best General Nonfiction. It is an account not only of the massacre of nine Black worshippers at Charleston’s Emanuel AME church in 2016, but of what followed: the national and local responses, the arrest and trial of Dylann Roof, and the incredibly painful journey of the survivors and the bereaved. This last is probably the most powerful element of the book. Although forgiveness was the watchword that got picked up by media when one of the survivors told Roof she forgave him just days later, this was not an easy or a universal response. Particularly tragic is the story of the husband of one of the murdered women, who returned from a merchant marine job halfway across the world and sank into depression, bitterness and apathy without his wife’s leavening presence. You find yourself unable to blame him, really. Roof is described about as objectively as possible—we learn about him through his actions and his reactions to his family and police—but it is highly evident that there is something wrong with him, perhaps undiagnosable, perhaps simply the manifestation of evil. A hard book but a very necessary one, and one that gives dignity and complexity to all of the actors in this horrible episode in American history.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Konrad Mueller

    Man, it’s so easy after mass shootings to let the weight pass in the periphery of news cycles, and not reckon with the pain. Admittedly I did just that with the Emanuel AME massacre back in 2015. This book forced me to process the pain and reality, and did a wonderful job profiling the messiness that is healing in the wake of such a tragedy. This is an important read for everyone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Jennifer Berry Hawes crafted a masterpiece for her first book. This was a great read - nuanced, meticulously-researched and compelling. Throughout the book, Hawes paints the big picture and then fills in the nitty-gritty details that make the story so heart-wrenching. The racist vitriol that influenced the killer's thinking was difficult to read but important to understanding that white nationalism can have deadly consequences.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    A profoundly moving account of the massacre at Mother Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina and portrait of life in the aftermath for survivors and loved ones of the vicitms. Hawses's narrative is notable for its depth, keen insight, and compassion. Ultimately, it is a powerful, provocative meditation on grace and mercy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This is a good and a hard book to read I have a lot to learn about the history of black people in America. I’m grateful to this book’s author for chronicling this horrible experience so I can I understand what happened.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hillary Copsey

    Journalists often produce the best nonfiction, and this is an example of that. Compassionate, incisive reporting.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nikol

    An emotionally difficult book to read, but a necessary one. I remember exactly where I was when I initially heard about the shooting, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. A timely reminder that love is both grace and action.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex Runowski

    I had to read this book as part of my Capital Punishment course at Michigan State College of Law and I was truly blown away by Jennifer Berry Hawes's ability to share this devastating story with such grace and precision. I highly recommend Grace Will Lead Us Home.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    A tough read, but very illuminating. We’ve gotten used to a routine in mass shootings. The event, the emergency response, the widespread media coverage, the funeral services, the vilification of the shooter, the deification of the victims, the moving on to the next tragedy. This book reveals the more difficult, more complex process that occurs for the victims and families and for the perpetrator’s family and for the perpetrator. Trauma never affects just one person! An important book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tony Bartelme

    From a gifted writer, this is an important and very human look at how we manage and mismanage the emotional trauma of these horrific shootings.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Moy

    I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was not this! Writing from a journalist’s view, this book included not just the events of the shooting but the aftermath in the lives of individuals, the church, the community, and the nation. It highlighted not only the background of the incredible act of speaking forgiveness to the killer days afterwards but also some of the various other “human” elements too. I couldn’t put it down and (audio) read the whole thing over just I’m not sure what I was expecting when I picked up this book, but it was not this! Writing from a journalist’s view, this book included not just the events of the shooting but the aftermath in the lives of individuals, the church, the community, and the nation. It highlighted not only the background of the incredible act of speaking forgiveness to the killer days afterwards but also some of the various other “human” elements too. I couldn’t put it down and (audio) read the whole thing over just a few days. I highly recommend it and see it only as helping one to grow in empathy, understanding, and even awe of the power of grace in a tangible way. It also shows us things not to do when walking through tragedies with people if we want to love them well as individuals or as the Church.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kathy Gardner-Jones

    “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” We each distinctly remember moments in our lives when the unthinkable happens. It is usually something so horrific that for at least a day it captures the nation’s collective conscientiousness. Sometimes the event is bad luck, human error, or an act of nature - a plane crashing into the nation’s Potomac River on an icy winter day, a space shuttle exploding mid-ai “Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.” We each distinctly remember moments in our lives when the unthinkable happens. It is usually something so horrific that for at least a day it captures the nation’s collective conscientiousness. Sometimes the event is bad luck, human error, or an act of nature - a plane crashing into the nation’s Potomac River on an icy winter day, a space shuttle exploding mid-air in Florida skies, a destructive Northwest forest fire or an earthquake significantly registering on the Richter scale in Southern California. These terrible twists of fate are the exceptions. In almost every other horrendous moment the common denominators are hate, guns and unspeakable violence. All of these incidents are touchstones in our lives. Those of us who grew up in the sixties and seventies remember the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy, and Harvey Milk. Younger generations join us in remembering where we were when the Columbine and Virginia Tech murders stunned the nation. And on December 14, 2012, during the season of peace, we stared at our televisions in disbelief as we learned that 20 tender young six-and-seven-year-olds and six adults were senselessly gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Unfortunately this list continues apace. We find humans are targets in elementary, middle and high schools, universities as well as nightclubs, theaters, concerts or festivals. However, I don’t think many of us anticipated that a young white man-child would enter Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Mother Emanuel’s AME Church on June 17, 2015 — sit for an hour during Wednesday evening’s Bible study, then brutally and systematically shoot nine of 12 worshippers dead as they bowed their heads in closing prayer. Unthinkable. Inconceivable. Jennifer Berry Hawes, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the Charleston Post & Courier, is “home preparing for bed” when the first tweets start lighting up her smart phone. “Grace Will Lead Us Home” reflects Hawes clear-eyed coverage of the murders, including a look at the lives of those slain. It is also the story of the survivors and the ongoing impact the murders have on each family. It is the story of a drifting young white man named Dylann Roof, and his immersion into the internet’s dark world of White Nationalism. Hawes walks us through the South’s ongoing racial divide while explaining that SC’s beautiful port city was once the main port of entry for tens of thousands of enslaved people. It’s a story about the generosity of giving as well as the toxic influence of money, greed and fame. It’s an inside look into a trial like none other. “Grace Will Lead Us Home” is surely also about the potency of the Confederate Flag — which even as Roof reloads his Glock for the seventh time—flies majestically on the State House grounds. It’s the story of a Republican South Carolina Governor and a majority white legislature who finally bring this flag down. And it’s the story of America’s first black President who brings us to tears while singing “Amazing Grace” during the funeral of SC State Legislator and Mother Emanuel pastor Clementa Pinckney. Hawes is a committed truth teller. I was particularly moved by a note in her preface, “As a white woman, I’ve since thought a lot about the difference between empathy and shared experience. While covering Dylann Roof’s trial, most of the black journalists sat together…Over coffee, one described for me the particular shared pain they felt covering the massacre. Hearing the killer’s racist rants and knowing he meant them for you and your family? I didn’t experience his words the way that reporter did. But I could report and contextualize the roles of race, guns, and Christian faith in a state built on the triumvirate of their influence.” She does that well. The story builds over 286 pages. It will continue to hurt hearts while leading each of us to contextualize what we see and, as important, change how we think and shape what we do. On July 10, 2015, two of my colleagues from the University of South Carolina, Merritt Hunter, Jeff Stensland and I, walked over to the Statehouse to watch the flag come down for the last time. We thought about each victim and the people left behind. Another touchstone moment. Even so, I still felt it was unconscionable that it took nine lives, including one of their own, to move the South Carolina legislators to action. Which brings me here. “Grace Will Lead Us Home” is a Biblical story about forgiveness. A forgiveness that stopped the nation in its tracks and made each us reflect on who we are and what we would do in similar circumstances. “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind but now I see.” This is a story about God’s grace. “Clementa Pickney found that grace. Cynthia Hurd found that grace. Susie Jackson found that grace. Ethel Lance found that grace. DePayne Middleton Doctor found that grace. Tywanza Sanders found that grace. Daniel L. Simmons Sr. found that grace. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton found that grace. Myra Thompson found that grace. May grace now lead them home.” ~ President Barack Obama, excerpt from eulogy remarks for the Honorable Reverend Clementa Pinckney.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gerald Truesdale

    Jennifer Berry Hawes spent the time getting things perfect in this account, and her ability to give you a front row seat into this tragedy is chilling and exectued with literary perfection. Her sincerity, compassion, and delivery of these lives lost makes your heart open and want to help. It is a must read !!! GGTIII

  27. 4 out of 5

    Joy Pope

    Riveting and very thought-provoking.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maya B

    I really enjoyed this read. What I appreciated most was the author focused on the survivors and the families of the victims.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I thought this book was beautifully written and researched. I ended up liking the book even more than I thought I would. There is a contrast between the hate of the killer who killed 9 people during a peaceful Bible study, and the struggle for forgiveness and moving forward on behalf of the victim's families and survivors. It discusses the rebel flag of the South and the fight to bring it down from the capitol building. A theme that I wasn't expecting was what happens when our church communities I thought this book was beautifully written and researched. I ended up liking the book even more than I thought I would. There is a contrast between the hate of the killer who killed 9 people during a peaceful Bible study, and the struggle for forgiveness and moving forward on behalf of the victim's families and survivors. It discusses the rebel flag of the South and the fight to bring it down from the capitol building. A theme that I wasn't expecting was what happens when our church communities fail us, which they inevitably will because churches are run by flawed humans. I especially appreciated the story of Felicia Sanders who struggled in the aftermath after tragically losing her son and aunt and surviving the shooting physically unscathed. Sometimes wounds can't be seen, but are felt deeply. This book left me with a lot to think about; how sometimes it's easy to forgive strangers and harder to figure people we love, how sometimes forgiveness comes quickly and sometimes it's a journey. How do we combat hate in our country? How do we heal racial divides? What can I do? These are the questions this book left me to wrestle with. It included President Barack Obama's excellent eulogy at the funeral of Clementa Pickney. I hope to quickly forget the killer's name and his hate, but always remember the people that were left to wrestle with the aftermath and those whose lives he cut short.

  30. 5 out of 5

    SaraCat

    I was 3/4 of the way done with this book when COVID-19 really hit the area I live in. So, I put it down for a while because the intensity of the events of the book was more than I felt I could deal with on top of the pandemic. So, coming back to it a few months later, it took me a while to remember the different people and all I had already learned about them in previous pages. The people, events, and conversations written down in this book are at times hard to read. Hawes writes for newspapers, I was 3/4 of the way done with this book when COVID-19 really hit the area I live in. So, I put it down for a while because the intensity of the events of the book was more than I felt I could deal with on top of the pandemic. So, coming back to it a few months later, it took me a while to remember the different people and all I had already learned about them in previous pages. The people, events, and conversations written down in this book are at times hard to read. Hawes writes for newspapers, so her journalistic approach is felt throughout the book in her recounting of what happened, though she also captures a lot of the emotions people experienced during this time in their lives. While I have not read them yet, two other books I found that talk about this are: We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel and Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, a Victim's Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace. Content Warning: Descriptions of a mass shooting, recounting the racist words and thoughts of others

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