Something different this week. A John Grisham novel, the third in his Theodore Boone series, with the target audience being 10-15 year olds (eighth grade students in the USA).
The story revolves around Theo Boone, the 13 year old son of two lawyers, who has an all-consuming interest in the law, and for his age is exceptionally well versed in the legal world.
Theodore Boone – The Accused (ISBN 978-1-444-72890-3, Hodder and Stoughton, 2013) has been very well received by the literary world with reviews constantly around 4.5/5.
The prose is aimed at the eighth grade level and descriptions of daily life for a young teenager are mostly believable. Young teenagers have different perspectives on life with different priorities. Despite his interest in the law, Theo is not averse to breaking local rules and regulations while riding his bicycle to school, for example. He is also ready to use secret corridors in the courthouse to be able to get himself a good seat during trials. Theo also breaks rules at school and sides with his protagonists when they are caught fighting. A fairly juvenile code of honor. But a code nevertheless. Theo thus comes across as a very normal 13 year old.
The story revolves around a classic reversal of roles. The hunter becoming the hunted. In this case the would be prosecutor becomes the accused in reality.
There are not many characters in the book, with Theo’s parents in a supporting role with his Uncle Ike, a disbarred lawyer being Theo’s confidante and advisor.
After being advised that he was to be indicted by the local police force, Theo has to turn detective in order to clear his own name, as circumstantial evidence would appear to be overwhelming.
In order to clear his name, Theo faces some ethical questions of whether the end justifies the means. The answer is known to his Uncle Ike which is revealed right towards the end of the book.
I was impressed by Grisham’s ability to stay within the bounds of early teenagers, both in speech and emotions.
At B. 310 this is a very inexpensive book, and an ideal Xmas gift for a boy between the ages of 10 and 15. We all agree that children should read more, and this is the type of book they should be reading, rather than the illustrated comic books. This was the third in the series, with the fourth out in the US already and the fifth due to be published in 2015. Enough to keep any young boy thirsting for more of Theodore Boone.