A Book Review: Gray Mountain

Disclaimer: Earne, I promise I’m not disclosing anything about the book that’s not available on the book’s cover.

If my memory is correct, John Grisham used to release a book in the Spring of each year. It was the staple anniversary present I received from Leah. His last few books, however, have been released in the Fall; on or around October 23rd. It’s really messed up Leah’s gift list.

Gray MountainAnyhoo, Grisham’s latest release is Gray Mountain, and it’s the second Grisham book that I’ve completed this year. Actually, it may be the second book that I’ve completed this year, not just the second Grisham book.

Set in 2008, Samantha Kofer – a rare female protagonist in a Grisham novel – struggles with finding work and purpose in a post-Lehman Brothers America. The collapse of Lehman Brothers sent waves of layed-off bankers, financiers, and attorneys in to the streets. Three weeks after the collapse, Samantha has left her trendy New York apartment and taken a job as an unpaid intern at a legal clinic in the Appalachia Mountain territory of southwest Virginia.

At the clinic, Samantha meets clients with real needs, real hardships, real problems, and no money. Most of the hardships, if not all of them, are the result of life in Appalachia, which is practically devoid of opportunity. About the only two things the region has in abundance is the natural beauty of its hills and valleys, and coal. In a strip mine world, the two – the natural beauty and the coal – either exist in harmony together, or they’re both taken away, literally scraped from the surface of the earth.

As a read, the book follows the same tone and flow as other Grisham novels. There were a few chapters that were a bit longer than I prefer. I like a 6 to 10 page chapter. Makes me feel like I’m making progress when I finish a chapter. Some chapters in Gray Mountain were nearing 20 pages long. That’s like 30+ minutes of reading for me. I did appreciate that Grisham doesn’t spend a lot of words in this book describing minor characters who, after the lengthy description, we never read about again.

The book is full of intrigue, suspense, and tension that we’ve come to expect from Grisham. Without giving it away, the ending of this book is very unusual for a Grisham novel. It took me a few minutes to process it.

I guess since the movie A Time to Kill, it’s hard for me to read a Grisham novel without picturing the actors who will play the characters in the movie. As I read, I wonder who’s going to play that character’s role in the movie. I also edit the movie as I read, thinking that scene will end up on the cutting room floor, if it gets filmed at all. I’ll keep my Samantha, Jeff, and Donovan ideas to myself, but there’s no way Mattie Wyatt should be played by anyone other than Kathy Bates.

You know that if I’ve read it, it’s a pretty easy read. Definitely worth the time spent curled up under a blanket in a cozy chair over the weekend to read. Enjoy!

Off to work! Have a great day.