The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton tells author’s own story of being falsely convicted for murder and sentenced to death. He spent thirty years on death row, fighting the justice system for his life. The book is deeply moving, and explores a perspective that most readers would never see a glimpse of otherwise.
The most essential part of Hinton’s story is that he was not guilty. It was impossible for him to have committed the crime, but the state wanted to execute him regardless. As the book continues, it becomes increasingly clear that Hinton was imprisoned and sentenced to death simply for being black and poor. As Hinton himself put it, “We were discarded like garbage and deemed unworthy to have a life.” The power of a story like this from a personal perspective cannot be overstated.
However, perspective is far from the only moving feature of this book. The writing style is emotional with its narration, and vivid in the way that only firsthand experience can be. The events described are harrowing, yet the author maintains a steadfast and hopeful tone throughout. It took remarkable consideration and talent to describe the brutal conditions of Holman Prison without wallowing in misery, because ultimately the story is tragic. Thirty years of unjust incarceration cannot ever be truly resolved or repaid. Hinton allows his readers to understand without drowning the story in details.
A notable tool the author uses to explore graphic themes is his own experience with faith and religion. Hinton speaks in great detail about his personal spirituality and hope, as well as his relationships with his family and church, which helps to contrast the heavy topics that the book must inevitably discuss. This balance results in a surprisingly digestible narrative that is greater than the sum of its individual features.
The Sun Does Shine is not just a memoir: it has a distinct message. Hinton believes the death penalty to be an unjust part of our legal system after experiencing how it affects a person, both innocent or guilty. This book’s account of Hinton’s conviction is not just a story, but a tool by which the author hopes to impart new understanding on readers and drive us toward a more just world.
Overall, Anthony Ray Hinton’s The Sun Does Shine is an invaluable narrative and a delightful read, due to its unique perspective, immersive style, and powerful message.