I bought this book some time ago, because John Grisham is one of my favorite authors. My reaction when I had finished reading it was a kind of...hmmm. So I decided to read it again in order to review it.
Theodore Boone is the son of two trial lawyers who have their own firm, in which Theo has his own office. He is in love with the law, and considers himself just a smaller version of a "real" attorney...who will someday take the Bar. He is on a first name basis with the law clerks and bailiffs at the courthouse, since he hangs out there when he's not in school. And when he is in school, all his classmates come to him for legal advice. He also regularly visits one of the prominent judges who hears criminal cases.
At the moment, there is a notorious murder trial going on, at which Judge Gantry is presiding. Theo talks to him about the trial, and although Grisham is careful not to let the judge say anything prejudicial or reveal any legal thoughts or opinions, in real life, a thirteen year old kid would not be allowed in to the office of a presently sitting judge, most especially one who is hearing a murder case.
During the murder trial, a friend of Theo's tells him privately that his cousin, who is an illegal alien, has some key evidence that will definitely prove the suspect in this case is guilty. However, the boy is afraid to come forward to the authorities because of his immigration status. Now Theo has a moral dilemma: how to get this evidence before the judge, and not rat out his friend's cousin. Things become especially serious when it looks like the defendent is going to walk out a free man, because there is not enough evidence to convict him...unless Theo comes forward. Which he finally does, but not until he brings his parents, uncle, and Judge Gantry in on the whole problem. Once he does that, the adults work together with him to solve the problem of key evidence and illegal alien. The ending is flat, without interest, conviction of the defendent is left up in the air...or...up to being solved in the sequel that is sure to come.
John Grisham is a master storyteller, but perhaps he should review some of the really good books written specifically for MG/YA by MG/YA authors. This book drags. It takes 50 pages to get to the first court scene, and from then on, nothing spectacular happens. Unfortunately, nothing spectacular has happened prior to that, either. It is a wandering discourse on criminal law, with Theo sounding just a little too much like an encyclopedia on law.
Theo is too perfect, so much so he got on my nerves with my second reading, and he is a one-dimensional character, as are all the characters in this book. It is totally unrealistic, for one thing...kids might talk to him about some small problem they are having, but to have him actually go to court in their behalf ( so okay, it was only Animal Court, but still...) and speak as their "attorney" is more than a little far-fetched. When one of his teachers asks him for legal advice, suspension of disbelief goes down the drain!
There is almost no action in this book, merely a series of conversations that lead...I could say, nowhere, but I guess ultimately they lead to the conclusion of the story...such as it is. There is no suspense, no mystery ( shame on you, John!), no danger, a predictible conclusion which isn't really a conclusion at all, because the murder defendent walks out of the courthouse, supposedly with a new trial hanging over his head...but is it really?
My first reading of this book was indecisive, my second read unsatisfactory. The sequel is on its way, but now I'm dreading having to read it! I'm afraid it's going to be more of the same. I wanted and expected Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer to be the kind of legal thriller...only kid style...that John Grisham usually writes. It wasn't. I am disappointed.
Until next time,
That's a wrap.