It’s been a very long time since I’d read a John Grisham novel. His stories used to be a staple of my TBR list but then for some reason they dropped off my radar. Too many books, too little time I guess. The description of this one greatly intrigued me, though…
It starts with a murder, seemingly pointless. When Pete Banning, a local war hero and town icon, murders a local preacher the town is shocked. Loyalties are divided as the trial nears and eventually concludes. Of course, nothing is ever as it seems. But there are secrets that Pete is not willing to tell, even if those secrets save his life.
Lots of pros and a few cons with this one for me. It’s a great story, full of fascinating characters. And it’s historical fiction set in the WWII era which is one of my favorite genres. Grisham is a master story teller, weaving a story so deep and complex that you just feel yourself being drawn in. There were a few “not so positives” for me. The wartime scenes were more drawn out and detailed than I would have liked, and I didn’t feel they added much to the primary story. And a couple of unanswered questions at the end which always bugs me. Still, this one was a strong four stars for me.
Buy It Now: The Reckoning
I fell in love with the words of Jesmyn Ward years ago. Salvage the Bones is a story that has stayed with me while so many others have been quickly forgotten. So it was with great anticipation that I dove into her newest novel.
Young JoJo has a mom. And he has a dad. But neither of them is very strong in the parenting department. Dad’s in prison, and mom Leonnie seemed to have missed getting the maternal instinct gene. Luckily, though, JoJo and his baby sister Kayla have the love and parenting of their grandparents. Life is hard, but there’s always plenty to eat and more than enough love to go around. When it’s time for dad to be released from prison, Leonnie decides that a family road trip is in order. Forget the fact that neither child wants much to do with her. They’re both uprooted against their grandparents’ wishes and off they go. Along the way there’s illness, drug deals, hunger, and handcuffs.
Oh and ghosts. Did I mention the ghosts? Leonnie, JoJo, and baby Kayla it would seem are all blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see spirits. Leonnie is haunted by the image of her dead brother. And JoJo picks up a friend at the prison, a young life lost long ago. Both have unfinished business.
This is the story, and it’s a good enough story that it’s enough. But then add in the hauntingly beautiful words of the author and you have something else. You have a piece of literature that is an epic tale, a tragedy of great proportions that will keep you reading until the very end.
There are no happy endings in this story. But does life always guarantee us as much? If you’re expecting everything to be wrapped up neat and tidy by the last page, then this isn’t the story for you. If, however, you’re looking for a raw and realistic portrayal of life written in the most beautiful way, look no further.
Buy It Now: Sing, Unburied, Sing