Review: Stand Your Ground
STAND YOUR GROUND - Victoria Christopher Murray
Simon & Schuster/Touchstone
June 2015
REVIEWER:  Brenda Larnell | RATING: A+
REVIEW: STAND YOUR GROUND is an exceptional work that presents a scenario that the world has become all too familiar with since Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted. Victoria Christopher Murray has masterly created a work of fiction that is so realistic and raw that I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a nonfiction work. Yet, many elements of this story crossed over into that category. The setting is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a Northern state, that is one of two dozen states that have some form of ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation. The Pennsylvania setting is important because it serves as a reminder that the law is not a Southern phenomenon.

The characters are strongly presented and unforgettable. First, there are Janice and Tyrone Johnson, the grief-stricken African-American parents of seventeen year old Marquis Johnson who was killed by Wyatt Spencer, a Caucasian. There is the Johnson’s inner support circle, a cast of secondary characters who come with their own story lines that the author weaves expertly into the main story. Themes of domestic abuse, infidelity, loyalty, and forgiveness also become a part of this tapestry of tragedy.

On the flip side, one of the most unforgettable secondary characters is Meredith, the conflicted wife of the villain-like Wyatt. It’s a stroke of genius by Victoria Christopher Murray that enables the reader to develop a modicum of empathy for not only the grieving family and friends of the dead youth, but also the wife of the killer. Murray never failed to emphasize the fact that the law that leaves victims on both sides of the case. It’s the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law which must be repealed.

Allowing the reader to receive different points of view during the course of the story is a technique that Murray uses effortlessly. We are witnesses to every thought, feelings of frustration, deep sadness, and brief moments of laughter that Janice Johnson experiences. But, the author doesn’t stop there. She continues with the perspective from Meredith Spencer’s side of the story, and lastly that of her husband, Wyatt. This technique helps to make this novel a riveting read!

STAND YOUR GROUND is worthy of so many accolades. Victoria Christopher Murray has managed to present a story that chronicles traumatic events without being ‘preachy’. It is timely and thought provoking. I highly recommend this novel. It brings so much light to a murky law that has negatively affected so many. Get this book; you will not be sorry.

22nd August 2015 |