Author: Richard Brignall
Publisher: James Lorimer Company
I read this book in a little over an hour. It's a quick read and rather enjoyable. One of the things I appreciate about Lorimer Publishing is that they publish this sort of book where I learn about aspects of life that I might not otherwise know about. And given the situation we are living in in today's world where police and prosecutors are under increasingly intense scrutiny from the public, I found this book to be a rather important addition to the world's library. Among the important lessons it teaches us is this: the system is not infallible.
It is probably wise, in my opinion, to help young readers understand this early. I'm not suggesting that adults should inculcate a spirit of rebellion and distrust; no. What I am suggesting is that we should encourage young readers to think critically about how the justice system operates in our world-both in Canada, the locus of this book–and in the United States–where I'm writing my review. Perhaps the only way to see the sort of injustices we are currently seeing end is by educating people earlier about what is supposed to happen when a person is charged with a crime. As Brignall notes several times in the book, the assumption of innocence was not granted to Kyle Unger from the outset and this affected his trial greatly.
So, to that end, I found this book helpful given that many of the technical terms about the justice system in Canada are compatible with those in the United States. I think students will appreciate that the author takes time to explain complex ideas and terminology that might not otherwise be understood. Context is definitely helpful, but the author has also provided a helpful glossary in the back for readers.
There is also a helpful timeline, an important epilogue, a section for further reading, and an index. This is all very helpful and will make this book very useful in the classroom. I also did a little googling about this case in question and found that there is still plenty of information available on the internet concerning the case of Kyle Unger. I also appreciated that the author ''tried to use as many primary sources as possible." This made the book come alive for me and added significant credibility to the re-telling of the story.
This is a very straightforward book. Some readers might be a little sensitive to the 'real life' language but it is important to establish a context and it is not gratuitous by any means. In my opinion, this will a helpful book in a civics or government class. It's another of those books that will lend itself to a good debate or conversation amongst students who are working or thinking through ways that the justice system can be held accountable to the people it represents. This book is a fine example of power run a muck, the failure of the justice system, and the importance of the truth.
I recommend it to my readers and also to teachers who may want to stir up a good conversation or debate in their social studies classroom.
[Disclaimer: I was provided a reader's copy via NetGalley in exchange for my fair and unbiased review of this book.]