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Publisher's Summary

This inspirational memoir serves as a call to action from prison reform activist Yusef Salaam, of the Exonerated Five, that will inspire us all to turn our stories into tools for change in the pursuit of racial justice.

They didn't know who they had.

So begins Yusef Salaam telling his story. No one's life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam's seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a spiritual perspective on life. Yusef learned that we're all "born on purpose, with a purpose". Despite having confronted the racist heart of America while being "run over by the spiked wheels of injustice", Yusef channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.

Better Not Bitter is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Yusef writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the '80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. Yusef connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life's experiences. He inspires listeners to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Yusef unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people. He inspires listeners to channel their fury into action, and through the spiritual, to turn that anger and trauma into a constructive force that lives alongside accountability and mobilizes change.

This memoir is an inspiring story that grew out of one of the gravest miscarriages of justice, one that not only speaks to a moment in time or the rage-filled present, but reflects a 400-year history of a nation's inability to be held accountable for its sins. Yusef Salaam's message is vital for our times, a motivating resource for enacting change. Better, Not Bitter has the power to soothe, inspire and transform. It is a galvanizing call to action.

©2021 Yusef Salaam (P)2021 Grand Central Publishing

What listeners say about Better, Not Bitter

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Better & Better

I had just moved to NYC the year of the Central Park jogger incident from Ireland. I was amongst the many who had a blood lust for instant justice for the victim of this crime. Not proud to cop to this, and with hindsight being 20/20 I'm disgusted with myself for having shared the same opinion as Donald Trump. This was one of the most inspirational journeys I have ever been taken on. Where is the $80k front page add to apologize to five children you were so quick to presume guilty Donald? You could tag line the apology also to the 15 women who have accused you of sexual assault. Here is my apology to you Yusef, and your four brothers. I became a U.S. citizen a few years back and after reading your book (and listening to the audio version) I know beyond a doubt, I have been afforded more opportunities by virtue of my race as a visitor to YOUR county than you have or have or will be allowed. Amazing read!

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Mesmerizing Memoir

I absolutely loved this memoir! I also enjoy when the author narrates on Audible and Yusef did not disappoint. This was a moving, gut wrenching, heartbreaking, yet inspirational story of a personal, inside look at a young man's life affected by the injustices of our "justice" system. I wasn't even born yet when this court case was in the news and media. I learned, for the first time, through Yusef's memoir what happened to him and the other exonerated men. This was a beautiful way to rewrite the narrative. My generation will now read the truth through Yusef's memoir, watch the truth on Netflix's "When They See Us," and advocate for the truth to continue to be told. The more I listened to Yusef's story the more captivated I was, the more I wanted to hear about his experiences, the more I wanted to help. This book completely moved me. I highly, highly suggest reading it. Thank you, Yusef, for sharing your truth and for discussing memories that were so difficult to bring back to the surface. You are changing this world for the better. Absolutely incredible.

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Finished in one day!

I loved the over all theme of the book of being reminded and realizing who you are and the greatness with in. the narration of the book was excellent. Made it easy to listen to.

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Better and Certainly NOT Bitter

I first became interested in the Central Park Five's story (now the Exonerated Five ) when I saw Matias Reyes confessed to the rape on the New York Nightly News. I remember the five youthful boys who were my age when they got arrested and wrongfully convicted. I could not imagine what my life would have been like had I been them. My heart immediately felt for their innocence. In this book, we are brought into the psyche of an intelligent and gifted teenage boy who turns into a mature and spiritual man...thanks to his doting mother.

Unlike the other wrongfully accused, Yusef was able to escape prison mentally by engaging deeper into his faith. A faith that protected him and prevented him from serving a very long time in prison. A faith that saved him from receiving harsher cruelties from inmates as did his fellow friend, Korey Wise. Once released, Yusef faced a hard reality that even his mother couldn't protect him from. A reality that life on the outside meant it was time to become a man.

At times, the book does get a little preachy, but it wasn't so bad that it made me stop reading. Overall, I would recommend this book as required reading. I think it would be helpful to our youth and college students. It's quite engaging.

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Explosive, Powerful, Insightful, Wise - MUST READ

I give the author 10 Perfect Stars. The power unleashed through this memoir is transformative. I devoured this book as my heart broke, my anger swirled and my hope rose. I am grateful to Yusef Salaam for every word written and every experience he had to relive again and again to get his story to us. He refers to himself as a child, just a kid going into the system and coming out a child in a man's body 7 years later. I say he was born for this experience, I say he was a Man-Child going into the system and a Master-of-Men coming out 7 years later. Yusef is an old soul with the strength and spiritual wisdom of a sage (wise through reflection and experience). It was an honor and privilege to read his book.

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Powerfully Motivating

This book is a must read for young men and women trying to find their purpose in life. Yusef shows how to use your mind to overcome harsh advertises.

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More proof of hope…

Yusef Salaam proves yet again that we should never give up hope, no matter the circumstances. Bad things, even horrible things will happen to you, some out of your control. However, your reaction to these situations are what matter most. Take as much control of your life as possible. Change your perception, shape your own narrative. Nurture your mind, body and spirit. Love yourself. Love your God and you will come out, better, not bitter.

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Preachy

If you are looking for a book to learn about his wrongful conviction, his incarceration experience, and his exoneration, this is NOT the book.

Instead, it seems to be a book written to be used for the Critical Race Theory curriculum, and to bring attention to a “revolution” that needs to continue the efforts of BLM, and “defund the police”.

The ironic thing is that at times his tone and language actually give the impression of someone who remains “bitter”, contrary to what the title says.

I now need to watch Netflix and/or find another book to understand what took place with the Central Park five as this book didn’t do that for me.

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Excellent book. A must read.

I loved every minute of the book. I would recommend it to anyone. Yusef Salaam laid his journey as a guide for those seeking a closer walk with the Creator. 👍🏾👍🏾

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Destiny was coming no matter what !

The only way to explain how he can bounce back from all the cruel and unfair treatment is to have faith discipline and a great support like this amazing man and the other I'm so grateful and blessed to hear the faith and determination in his voice .