A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2019 * BARNES & NOBLE DISCOVER GREAT NEW WRITERS PICK * OPRAH MAGAZINE SUMMER 2019 READING LIST SELECTION * NEW YORK TIMES EDITOR'S CHOICE
“A soul-shaking chronicle of the 2015 Charleston massacre and its aftermath... [Hawes is] a writer with the exceedingly rare ability to observe sympathetically both particular events and the horizon against which they take place without sentimentalizing her subjects. Hawes is so admirably steadfast in her commitment to bearing witness that one is compelled to consider the story she tells from every possible angle.”
—The New York Times Book Review
A deeply moving work of narrative nonfiction on the tragic shootings at the Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston, South Carolina from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jennifer Berry Hawes.
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.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hawes delivers a wrenching account of the 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. In chilling detail, Hawes describes how Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old killer, devised and carried out his plan, murdering nine African-Americans and sparing one victim so she could "tell the story." Hawes depicts Roof as a deeply disturbed loner with Confederate vanity plates. Many details are hard to read Roof pulling the gun while study group members had their eyes closed for a prayer, bullet-pierced Bibles, the 911 call from the scene. As a local reporter, Hawes brings fresh insight into how this violent act impacted the community, leading South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to call for the removal of the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds and reigniting national debates about race relations and gun violence. The narrative follows the survivors, which makes for painful but moving reading; the book derives much of its power from following survivor Felicia Sanders who ultimately switched to another church after being disappointed by Emanuel AME's handling of the aftermath and the grief of those whose loved ones were among the nine killed. This devastating work brings to vivid life the forces set in motion by the shooting