Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood
By Efrem Sigel
This riveting memoir recounts the author’s experience on a jury in a murder trial and his subsequent investigation of the conditions in East Harlem that led young people to be involved in drug-selling and criminal activity. Besides the trial itself, the book is the story of the failures in NYCHA housing projects, the schools and the criminal justice system, and the efforts of a handful of educators, nonprofit leaders and criminal justice reformers to find pathways to success for these young people.
In the author’s words, “As a juror in a criminal trial, your vote is one of 12 determining whether the accused goes free or is punished. When the charge is murder, you never forget that a decision to convict can take away his liberty for the rest of his life. I had thought that our jury’s vote at the conclusion of the trial would be the end of the story. But I was mistaken. For me the jury verdict was only the beginning.”
My thoughts: This book was easy to get into, as I like books about court trials most of the time anyway, and I enjoyed the author’s perspective on this case and the different people involved in it. You could tell that he was way more involved in it than most people, although going through that would affect anyone, really. I took a class on courts as an older teen that required us to go to a nearby courthouse where we sat in on part of a murder trial, and I found it fascinating. It’s stuck with me ever since.
The author, Efrem Sigel, cannot leave the trial behind him afterward. He embarks on a mission to learn about the places and systems involved in the case and starts frequenting them to see what he can learn about how they prepare children or don’t. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Efrem Sigel, and the publisher.
Publisher: IBPA Members’ Titles – 146 pages
Publication: Nov 16th, 2020
My rating: 3/5 STARS
About the Author– Sigel is the author of two published novels and more than 30 published short stories and memoirs. Of his most recent novel, The Disappearance, Booklist said: The story takes place over the course of about a year and it is gripping, emotional, and tender. Sigel is clearly a talented storyteller, and the novel has a deep emotional core that will resonate with any reader. Publishers Weekly called The Disappearance powerful and elegantly crafted. People Magazine gave it 3 and a half stars. Sigel is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School; was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ivory Coast, and started and ran two business information companies. He lives in New York, where he helps direct pro bono consulting projects to nonprofits in the field of education, through the Harvard Business School Club of NY. He is on the board of Futures and Options, a nonprofit devoted to career development and education for urban youth.