Friday, July 16, 2010

John Grisham for Women

Ok, I promised a post about the great book I was reading last week.  House Rules, the newest book by Jodi Picoult - an author I discovered years before her My Sister's Keeper fame - was one of those books that I literally couldn't put down.  It was fantastic.  Truly remarkable.  Like all of her books, I felt myself truly feeling for the characters.  I cannot tell you how many times I've read one of her books on an airplane and had the lady next to me hand me a tissue or ask if I'm going to be ok.  She writes these stories that everyone can relate to but we all hope never to deal with... terminally ill family, school shootings, rapes and murders, general family issues.  All of her books have the added bonus of being very character-in-a-courtroom driven.  I've always called her John Grisham for woman and I'll stand by that.

I mean I love a good John Grisham, or John Grisham-like, novel but sometimes I can't bring myself to care for another boardroom executive who steals the companies money or murders someone in cold blood.  But a mother who is trying to protect her family?  That I can drawn into time and time again.

The thing with her novels is that she writes from so many different perspectives.  The very first book of hers I remember reading, Perfect Match, is about a woman who prosecutes sex offenders - until her young son gets molested himself.  The terrifying ordeal that follows tears apart her family, challenges her faith, and gives everyone new perspective on the court system in our country.  Never mind that Picoult writes multiple chapters from the perspective of the young boy as he sits on some man's lap.  We all know what is going on but she writes from the point of view of the child, who is much more oblivious than the enlightened adults who follow his story.  Her description of the boy sitting on a man's lap, petting the man's cat as the molester gives reason for the boy to trust him still haunts me today.  *shutters*

I could point out moments in almost every story of hers that stick with me.  Moments that made me look at my life a little differently and know that I would react exactly the same way, no matter how irrational the character seems.  Regardless of if a woman gets in trouble for shooting the man who hurt her family... wouldn't you do the same thing if you had the opportunity?  Wouldn't you want to protect the people you love no matter what?  I know that I would.

I remember when I was a young girl and someone beat me up in the 5th grade.  My little sister, a tough 2nd grade tomboy, stormed into the office out for blood.  She was prepared to beat the hell out of whoever had hurt me, no matter how much bigger or stronger he was.  I look at her now as she's preparing to move across the country with her boyfriend and someday soon build a family of her own and know that she would still do the same thing today.  We all would.  Because that's what families do.

Bottom line, read anything you can get your hands on by this wonderful woman.  Plus, look at her.  I want to be her friend... I want to sit down for coffee and pick her brain.  Her stories are those that I could only dream to write someday.  They are so involved and the authors intelligence is evident as each and every story unfolds.  But so is her compassion, her ability to empathize with a family's suffering.  I would love to see her interact with her own children on Christmas morning.  Because someone who writes this well must live a life we can only dream to build for ourselves some day.

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