- “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin” by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin
- Read as an ebook
- 5/5 stars
- Finished July 17, 2017
Trayvon Martin’s parents take readers beyond the news cycle with an account only they could give: the intimate story of a tragically foreshortened life and the rise of a movement.
On a February evening in 2012, in a small town in central Florida, seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was walking home with candy and a can of juice in hand and talking on the phone with a friend when a fatal encounter with a gun-wielding neighborhood watchman ended his young life. The watchman was briefly detained by the police and released.
Trayvon’s father, a truck driver named Tracy, tried to get answers from the police but was shut down and ignored. Trayvon’s mother, a civil servant for the city of Miami, was paralyzed by the news of her son’s death and lost in mourning, unable to leave her room for days. But in a matter of weeks, their son’s name would be spoken by President Obama, honored by professional athletes, and passionately discussed all over traditional and social media. And at the head of a growing nationwide campaign for justice were Trayvon’s parents, who driven by their intense love for their lost son discovered their voices, gathered allies, and launched a movement that would change the country.
Five years after his tragic death, Travyon Martin’s name is still evoked every day. He has become a symbol of social justice activism, as has his hauntingly familiar image: the photo of a child still in the process of becoming a young man, wearing a hoodie and gazing silently at the camera. But who was Trayvon Martin, before he became, in death, an icon? And how did one black child s death on a dark, rainy street in a small Florida town become the match that lit a civil rights crusade?
Rest in Power, told through the compelling alternating narratives of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, answers, for the first time, those questions from the most intimate of sources. It s the story of the beautiful and complex child they lost, the cruel unresponsiveness of the police and the hostility of the legal system, and the inspiring journey they took from grief and pain to power, and from tragedy and senselessness to meaning.
If anyone ever asks me what the hardest book I’ve ever read was, it would be this one. I read this right after finishing “The Hate U Give”, and man. That was hard. It was hard to go from the fictional to the actual real, and to read a love letter from two parents to their son who was taken from us far too young. Trayvon would have turned 23 this year, and my heart just shatters.
This book follows Trayvon’s short life, as told by his parents, and the aftermath of his death. Tracy and Sybrina discuss the injustices that were given to them right off the bat from the police (like demanding a drug test on Trayvon’s body but not even testing his murderer). The proof that his murderer did actively seek him out, the heartbreaking recollection that Tracy shares where he said he always told Trayvon to run if he was in a situation like the one he was in. We find out why Trayvon was where he was, he was visiting his father, and we listen to these parents process this terrible loss and tragedy.
The most beautiful thing I think about this story is that to me, it felt like bearing a loss of a close friend, our goal is to listen. So often in memoirs I feel like we want to learn, and while that’s prevalent here, it’s less about us, and more about them. About understanding what these parents went through, and with brutal and sharp honesty, we hear from Sybrina and Tracy as they seem to process. I wrote a full blog post response to this book which you can find here, which is more of an immediate reaction to my sadness about this book.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, should read this book. It will be hard, and that’s okay. It should be hard to hear about the murder of a young boy.
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