AMAZON EDITORS' PICK FOR THE BEST BOOK OF 2020
NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINEE
LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FINALIST
"A Knock at Midnight is an essential book for our time, and Brittany K. Barnett is a star."
VAN JONES ON
A KNOCK AT MIDNIGHT
A Knock at Midnight is Brittany’s riveting, inspirational memoir, 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 both at every turn. Brittany's book was published by The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House.
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 ruthless and devastating war on drugs, Sharanda had been torn from the arms of her young daughter and was serving a life sentence without parole—all for a first-time drug offense. In Sharanda, Brittany saw haunting echoes of her own life, as the daughter of a formerly incarcerated mother. As she studied Sharanda’s case, a system slowly came into focus: one where racial injustice forms the core of our country’s addiction to incarceration. Moved by Sharanda’s plight, Brittany began to work towards 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 Brittany moved billion-dollar deals, and by night she worked pro bono to free clients in nearly 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.
An Amazon Best Book of September 2020: As a child of a mother who did jail time, Brittany K. Barnett understands the grave implications of a parent lost to “the striped Looney Toons suit.” As she writes in A Knock at Midnight: “There’s something about seeing your childhood hero, your guiding star, fallen. It rocks you to your core.” In this deeply personal memoir, Barnett shares how as a young Black girl she was surrounded by drugs growing up in the south—her mother, a nurse, at times was addicted to crack, and her boyfriend dealt drugs—how her family fueled her, why she pursued law, and became dedicated to defending those unfairly incarcerated for minor drug crimes. As she learned, inequality lurked everywhere: “The discrepancy in sentencing blew my mind. I began to wonder whether America’s harsh drug sentences were tied to the drugs in a man’s hand or the melanin in his skin.” While A Knock at Midnight is a brilliant memoir of Barnett’s own journey, it also chronicles the stories of three of her clients. Their lives—including their crimes, their families, and their jail time—are rendered with such care and compassion that it is impossible to put this book down. It is also impossible not to root for Barnett and her clients as she fights to get them the justice they deserve, and never had. A Knock at Midnight is a profoundly moving memoir that reveals the incredibly racist world of the feds, the courts, and the laws that throw away people’s lives—for life. —Al Woodworth, Amazon Book Review
Other Praise for A Knock at Midnight
“For a young lawyer, Brittany Barnett has a lot of war stories. In A Knock at Midnight, Barnett’s engrossing memoir, most of the stories involve Black women who are casualties of the war on drugs. . . . [Barnett’s] vignettes about the lives of women in the ‘New Jim Crow’ era are powerful and devastating.”—The Washington Post
“A Knock at Midnight isn’t your ordinary memoir. It carries the force of urgent action, and it calls attention to sentencing laws that must be read to be believed. Most important, it bears the toil and triumph of freedom hard won. That’s a quality that readers will have a hard time taking for granted after reading these pages.”—Houston Chronicle
“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
“. . . Brittany is a first-rate storyteller. With heartfelt clarity and conviction, she delivers a powerful story of courage and hope, along with a good dose of the messy truth about our nation’s broken criminal justice system. America desperately needs stories just like this one.”—Van Jones, CEO of REFORM Alliance, CNN Host, and New York Times bestselling author
“Brittany’s passion, ambition, hard work, and commitment to excellence have produced an unparalleled record of success at a young age. I have been personally touched by her incredible dedication to advancing justice and her unwavering and selfless dedication to freedom.”—Sean “Diddy” Combs
“ A riveting memoir of injustice, resilience, and hope.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A welcome new addition to . . . books about the critically flawed U.S. legal system . . . Considering her youthfulness, [Brittany] Barnett has accomplished more reform than most individuals could accomplish in two lifetimes.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“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)
“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)
"A call to action that will leave readers enlightened and inspired for years to come."
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF WRITING MY WRONGS