John Grisham is one of those writers whose books are all over the place. Look in an odd old nook or cranny, you’ll probably find a John Grisham book in there. But in all seriousness, he’s like Steven Spielberg in the sense that he has so many books that you just sort of take him for granted. Seeing as I have the memory of a goldfish I’m not actually sure if I have read some of his other stuff; this is the one that stood out in my mind which is why I’ve decided to review it.
The book is set in the sickly hot, cotton-picking South in 1952. The story is told through the main character Luke, a 10-year-old boy who is the youngest member of the Chandler family. The picking season is just about to start and the family is looking into hiring some extra hands to help them with the work. The Spruills and some Mexicans fit the bill and set up camp by the Chandler house. The story begins to get interesting as Luke gets to know the newcomers. The Mexicans work hard and keep to themselves but the Spruills, in particular one of the sons Hank Spruill, starts causing trouble on the peaceful farm from the word go.
To cut it short, Hank kicks the crap out of 3 boys at a fair and one of the boys is wounded so badly he later dies from his injuries. Luke witnesses this and all sorts of bribery and fear tactics follow. The plot is a little tricky to try to explain, there are a lot of characters and while Hank makes up the main storyline of the book there are always 2 or 3 other issues going on in the background that keep the momentum going. The author builds Luke’s world really well by including lots of details about the family’s everyday routines for example each morning Luke is allowed his one cup of coffee and in the evenings they sit out on the porch and listen to the radio. All in all I would highly recommend this book. Like a lot of good reads it takes a few chapters to get into it but persevere, it’s worth it!