Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer – John Grisham

© 2010 New York, Dutton Children’s Books

In the year 2000, John Grisham did something different. He wrote a novel that was NOT about lawyers. Well, at least it was different for him. The book was originally published in serial form in the Oxford American literary magazine. Subsequently, Doubleday released the book version of A Painted House in January 2001. The author has since released other non-lawyerly stories (Skipping Christmas, also Doubleday 2001; Bleachers, Doubleday 2003; and Playing for Pizza, Doubleday 2007). Now he is again trying something new. This time he is entering the juvenile market—albeit with a lawyer novel.

Theo Boone is the thirteen-year-old son of two lawyers—his father, a real estate lawyer, and his mother a successful divorce attorney who only represents the wife. He loves court and all the drama therein. He even loves to watch old Perry Mason reruns with his parents. His dream vacillates between being a high-profile courtroom lawyer and becoming a powerful judge in that same courtroom. In his eighth-grade class, he is the go-to guy for all problems involving the law (from escaped and impounded dogs to arrested brothers). In the midst of the biggest murder trial to hit the town of Strattenburg, Theo finds himself in possession of the only evidence to guide justice. And he’s promised not to tell anyone.

This is a fast-paced novel which is a great introduction to “lawyer fiction” for most readers. Appealing about this book is the moving story with rich characters and the absence of foul language and sex scenes that permeate courtroom dramas aimed at an older audience. You can almost overlook the main drawback—scenes that seem to drop a line or two, requiring the reader to fill in a bigger gap than he should.

For this excellent effort in introducing his writing to younger audiences, I can award Grisham a solid four out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, June 23, 2010

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