Saturday, September 19, 2020

Sunday Synopsis

A Painted HouseA Painted House by John Grisham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I usually love John Grisham's books, but I'm usually reading his legal thrillers. I have read a few that weren't thrillers including a nonfiction book and a comedy. I always enjoy his writing, even if some are better than others.

This is most definitely NOT a legal thriller. It's not nonfiction although it is semi-autobiographical based on Grisham's childhood

The main character is 7 year old Luke Chandler. The year is 1952. Luke lives on a rented (not owned) cotton farm in rural northeastern Arkansas in an unpainted house with his parents and grandparents and no indoor plumbing.  The big treat each week is to go into town, that is, after he has had his weekly bath. His uncle is away fighting in the Korean War. Luke is convinced he is going to grow up to be a St. Louis Cardinal. The Chandlers are poor, yet they are generous with what they do have. Every year, during harvesting time, they take on "hillbillies" from the Ozarks and Mexicans to pick cotton. They offer a small wage per pound of cotton picked. This particular year, there is a lot of drama among the hired help.

This is also somewhat a coming-of-age story. Luke sees things that a 7 year old shouldn't see and learns many secrets, some of which he will take to his grave. This is a season where Luke learns about life from the "hillbillies," the Mexicans, the neighbors, the town, and his own family.

Some people have said this book is boring. I disagree. Grisham tells a great story and develops complex characters

I think I liked it mostly because it reminded me so much of my father and his parents. My father, who quite suddenly passed away 16 years ago, was born at home in Oklahoma (Luke was born at home, too). My dad and his family later moved to Arkansas, and they were also farmers. Even though my dad was older than Luke by 10 years in 1952, Luke came to represent him in my mind, and his parents and grandparents represented my Arkansas relatives. So much nostalgia. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

My only complaint about this book is that it ended. Grisham chose an appropriate place to end the book, but I want more! I hope he decides to write a sequel so I can catch up with the Chandlers.

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