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A Knock at Midnight: Book summary and reviews of A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett

A Knock at Midnight

A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom

by Brittany K. Barnett

A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett X
A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett
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Book Summary

An urgent call to free those buried alive by America's legal system, and an inspiring true story about unwavering belief in humanity - from a gifted young lawyer and important new voice in the movement to transform the system.

Brittany K. Barnett was only a law student when she came across the case that would change her life forever—that of Sharanda Jones, single mother, business owner, and, like Brittany, Black daughter of the rural South. A victim of America's devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn away from her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole—for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of her own life, both as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother and as the once-girlfriend of an abusive drug dealer. As she studied this case, a system came into focus: one where widespread racial injustice forms the core of America's addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda's plight, Brittany set to work to gain her freedom.

This had never been the plan. Bright and ambitious, Brittany was a successful accountant on her way to a high-powered future in corporate law. But Sharanda's case opened the door to a harrowing journey through the criminal justice system. By day she moved billion-dollar deals, and by night she worked pro bono to free clients in near-hopeless legal battles. Ultimately, her path transformed her understanding of injustice in the courts, of genius languishing behind bars, and the very definition of freedom itself.

Brittany's riveting memoir is at once a coming-of-age story and a powerful evocation of what it takes to bring hope and justice to a system built to resist them both.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A welcome new addition to the groaning shelves of books about the critically flawed U.S. legal system...Considering her youthfulness, Barnett has accomplished more reform than most individuals could accomplish in two lifetimes." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An engrossing legal drama complete with wrenching reversals and redemptions, this account richly humanizes defendants while incisively analyzing deep flaws in America's justice system." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Barnett tells each client's story fully, allowing readers to grasp the weight of years of incarceration and the impact of the War on Drugs on the Black community. Her writing captures both the precision of law and the emotion of seeking freedom. A riveting memoir of injustice, resilience, and hope." - Booklist (starred review)

"Recommended for readers who enjoyed Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy, this is an essential read for anyone seeking to understand the devastating effects of mandatory drug sentencing and looking for inspiration to seek change." - Library Journal (starred review)

"A Knock at Midnight is a book that is just right for this smoldering moment, a memoir that offers an irresistible invitation to examine the evolution and the impact of injustice in America." - Michele Norris, contributing columnist at The Washington Post and founding director of The Race Card Project

"With a penetrating honesty, Brittany K. Barnett masterfully unlocks the mysterious doors of the prison system, revealing a long tradition of racial injustice and inequality. In the spirit of great films like Ava DuVernay's 13th, A Knock at Midnight is both an educational tool and a call to action that will leave readers enlightened and inspired for years to come." - Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs

This information about A Knock at Midnight was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Kimberly Giuntini

Disingenuous
I was enjoying the book and, as a former federal prosecutor, absolutely agreed with need to modify the sentencing guidelines. The problem for me was the author’s hypocrisy. She spends a significant amount of time lamenting her mother’s unfair treatment (which actually was not unfair given that she repeatedly and knowingly violated the probation conditions by testing dirty all the time. Was the Court supposed to continue to allow that without, FINALLY, sending her to prison? Should there not be a consequence for the repeated violations of a condition of probation?) and how drugs ruined her childhood, then completely glosses over the her family and friends roll in the distribution of drugs. Her family, her friends, and even the author herself participated in either selling or helping her boyfriend transporting drugs, yet because she considered their roles minimal - and because they were good people - was angry about the way they were treated. Notwithstanding her valid points about the obvious racial bias in the previous sentencing guidelines, I found her position to be cavalier. I would have thought that she might have been more mindful of the devastation the drugs her friends and family were distributing were causing in the lives of the people buying those drugs. The children, like her who were traumatized by what her family and friends were doing. She didn’t show any concern about those people at all which is why I conclude that the author is disingenuous.

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Author Information

Brittany K. Barnett

Brittany K. Barnett is an award-winning attorney and entrepreneur focused on social impact investing. She is dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system and has won freedom for numerous clients serving life sentences for federal drug offenses—seven of whom received executive clemency from President Barack Obama. Brittany has founded several social enterprises, such as XVI Capital Partners, Milena Reign LLC, the Buried Alive Project, and Girls Embracing Mothers. She has earned many honors, including being named one of America's most Outstanding Young Lawyers by the American Bar Association.

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