The uninnocent Notes on violence and mercy

Katharine Blake, 1984-

Book - 2021

"A harrowing, intellectual reckoning with crime, mercy, justice, and heartbreak through the lens of a murder"--

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Series
FSG originals.
Subjects
Genres
Biographies
Published
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
209 pages ; 19 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 203-206).
ISBN
9780374538521
0374538522
Main Author
Katharine Blake, 1984- (author)
  • How do we go on
  • How would you write it
  • How your heart pounds inside me.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Blake was in law school when she got a call informing her that her 16-year-old cousin, Scott, had brutally murdered a 9-year-old boy, a stranger, on a bike path one fateful summer day. Scott's psychotic break and its violent fallout changed everything about how Blake interprets crime, punishment, and mental illness. Blake grew skeptical of the theatrics of law school: the clear-cut answers and obvious rights and wrongs seemed so silly when the real world was so full of confounding heartbreak. Scott's crime and subsequent sentence of life in prison at Angola left Blake with so many questions about evil, disease, inherited trauma, and the emptiness of legal justice. This book explores every facet of those inquiries, meandering through grief and entropy, always searching for nuance and finding more questions. Blake is a keen researcher and sharp in her academic assessment of how the criminal justice system handles the young, but it's her ability to blend that report into a shockingly poignant memoir that makes this book a must-read. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Blake was in law school when she got a call informing her that her 16-year-old cousin, Scott, had brutally murdered a 9-year-old boy, a stranger, on a bike path one fateful summer day. Scott's psychotic break and its violent fallout changed everything about how Blake interprets crime, punishment, and mental illness. Blake grew skeptical of the theatrics of law school: the clear-cut answers and obvious rights and wrongs seemed so silly when the real world was so full of confounding heartbreak. Scott's crime and subsequent sentence of life in prison at Angola left Blake with so many questions about evil, disease, inherited trauma, and the emptiness of legal justice. This book explores every facet of those inquiries, meandering through grief and entropy, always searching for nuance and finding more questions. Blake is a keen researcher and sharp in her academic assessment of how the criminal justice system handles the young, but it's her ability to blend that report into a shockingly poignant memoir that makes this book a must-read. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Vermont Law School professor Blake debuts with an intimate and deeply moving meditation on trauma, healing, hope, and the criminal justice system. In 2010, Blake's 16-year-old cousin Scott had a psychotic break and killed a nine-year-old boy in Louisiana; he was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole. Blake, who had just completed her first year of law school at the time of the murder, grapples with the limited capacity of the legal system to remedy broken lives, and investigates heartbreak in its myriad forms, including grief at the loss of a loved one and the violence, abuse, and addiction present on both sides of her family. She also documents how her cousin's legal situation shaped her own educational and career path, including a stint teaching English at San Quentin prison, and theorizes that acts of creation help people to make sense of grief. Distinguishing between justice and fairness, Blake contends that sentencing juvenile offenders to life without parole, even in cases of "irreparable corruption," discounts the human potential for change, and posits that mercy has the power to break cycles of suffering. Crystalline prose, incisive inquiries into complex moral and legal matters, and candid reflections on the pain of losing hope make this a must-read. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman.(Nov.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"A harrowing, intellectual reckoning with crime, mercy, justice, and heartbreak through the lens of a murder"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Bridging memoir, essay and legalese, the author looking through the lens of a murder, as well as the broken machinations of America’s justice system, delves into a history of heartbreak—through science, medicine and literature. Original. 20,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

One of Buzzfeed's 25 New And Upcoming Books You Won’t Be Able To Put Down and one of LitHub's Best New Nonfiction to Read This November"The Uninnocent is so elegantly crafted that the pleasure of reading it nearly overrides its devastating subject matter . . . a story of radical empathy, a triumph of care and forgiveness." --Stephanie Danler, author of Stray and SweetbitterA harrowing intellectual reckoning with crime, mercy, justice and heartbreak through the lens of a murderOn a Thursday morning in June 2010, Katharine Blake's sixteen-year-old cousin walked to a nearby bike path with a boxcutter, and killed a young boy he didn’t know. It was a psychological break that tore through his brain, and into the hearts of those who loved both boys—one brutally killed, the other sentenced to die at Angola, one of the country’s most notorious prisons.In The Uninnocent, Blake, a law student at Stanford at the time of the crime, wrestles with the implications of her cousin’s break, as well as the broken machinations of America’s justice system. As her cousin languished in a cell on death row, where he was assigned for his own protection, Blake struggled to keep her faith in the system she was training to join. Consumed with understanding her family’s new reality, Blake became obsessed with heartbreak, seeing it everywhere: in her cousin’s isolation, in the loss at the center of the crime, in the students she taught at various prisons, in the way our justice system breaks rather than mends, in the history of her parents and their violent childhoods. As she delves into a history of heartbreak—through science, medicine, and literature—and chronicles the uneasy yet ultimately tender bond she forms with her cousin, Blake asks probing questions about justice, faith, inheritance, family, and, most of all, mercy. Sensitive, singular, and powerful, effortlessly bridging memoir, essay, and legalese, The Uninnocent is a reckoning with the unimaginable, unforgettable, and seemly irredeemable. With curiosity and vulnerability, Blake unravels a distressed tapestry, finding solace in both its tearing and its mending.