My mother loves to read. As far back as I can remember, she’s always had a book on hand. Anything that might require waiting or any little sliver of peace and quiet she can find; she’s got a book. Her favorite genre is easily any legal thriller or courtroom drama book. I grew up with the same love for reading but after fourteen, I outgrew my Fear Street and Babysitters Club books and found comfort in philosophy and poetry. I did read fiction books here and there, I loved (and still do love) Harry Potter and even have a 7″ tattoo on my right arm dedicated to To Kill A Mockingbird (still my favorite and Atticus Finch… totally different story).
When my philosophy books put me in depression, I’d grab one of her books off of the shelf and try to work my way through them but would eventually give up somewhere in the middle, unable to maintain interest. After I moved in to my first apartment, she gave me a couple of books to keep around for when I needed to ease my mind a bit. At 19, I read A Time To Kill as an adult for the first time. The cover had always caught my attention when I was a kid for some reason. I think it was probably the tacky marble background, but either way, it was another one of her books that I’d tried to read more than once and couldn’t finish. However, at nineteen, it certainly captured my interests.
Mostly for the fact that I can read them anywhere without them requiring my full attention (I can’t stand background noises when I read my philosophy or poetry books) but also because the past two years have taken a toll on my anxiety and I need the fantasy of happy endings that most people exploit through television.
So, last week, I went to Barns and Noble and bought A Time To Kill. The first two days of having it involved 500 pages and shushing interrupting boyfriends. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t finished it before. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and more patient, or perhaps it’s because I was able to relate to the characters better, either way, I was a little surprised at my inability to pry myself from it’s pages.
I’m still not really sure what it was that kept my hunger so strong, honestly, I found the writing a bit sloppy, the situations a little too far-fetched and the battle of racism in the book too extreme and outdated for the era in which it was written. However, John Grisham has notable talent. His knowledge of the courtroom is evident and the characters are well developed. While a good portion of the book is devoted to the jury selection, you still find yourself completely interested.
What truly amazed me was reading the Author’s Note and discovering that this was actually his first book. Originally, less than 5,000 copies were sold and the book didn’t even make it to paperback. It wasn’t until he wrote The Firm that anyone even knew Grisham’s name.
Apparently it took a few more books and a motion picture before A Time To Kill even found recognition among the legal thriller reading community.
Incredibly enough, his first book being a flop, he didn’t give up and kept writing, and now, I don’t know many adults who haven’t heard his name somewhere before.
I found myself browsing the fiction books at Goodwill today and calling my mother to recommend two of the six J.G. books I was able to find. I proudly left with The Rainmaker and The Appeal and am genuinely looking forward to reading them.
John Grisham will probably never be one of my favorite authors, and none of his books will ever compare the feelings I get when I read To Kill A Mockingbird. Yet, there is something wonderful about A Time To Kill that I can say I will not likely find in any of the other fiction books I plan on reading in the future. It’s undeniably a wonderful book written with obvious passion on the subject and I’d gladly recommend it to anyone who might happen to ask.
John Grisham writes in his Author’s Note “At least ninety percent of those readers who get close enough to offer an opinion say something like, ‘I enjoy all of your books, but my favorite is A Time To Kill‘ It’s mine too.” At this point, even though I have yet to complete a second book of his, I know I’d probably be part of that ninety percent.