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12 August 2010 @ 09:51 am
an observation  

I have been listening to the John Grisham book for "children" (note use of ironic quotes here is intentional). Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, is not a book for kids. Well, it has a main character who is a kid (Theodore, a precocious child who serves as legal counsel for his school friends, hacks into computer systems, and solves unsolvable cases). However, the book has a really adult feel to it. Perhaps listening to it reinforced that. Here are just some random observations:

Theo never walks anywhere: he scampers a lot (what's up with that?). Ditto most of the adults.
Theo knows so much about the law but is clueless about other things; his character is inconsistent.
His parents allow him more freedom than any other 13 year old has or should have.
Most kids, except for Theo, are basket cases.
Theo has very adult observations about the world around him, too adult.

OK, actually I get this. This is the Hardy Boys all over again. Suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride. I would rather take a ride, though, with the guy who writes for adults. Riding with him as he writes for kids just does not work for me. I love Grisham's books for grown ups. I just think this one should be listed as adult as well. Ditto Charles Dickens. Just because there is a child as focus does not mean there is a child as audience. I wonder what the reactions of kid readers has been? <317>

The flip side of this is that there are adult authors who cross over and get it right; they can channel the child or teen inside. Carl Hiaasen springs to mind immediately. I did not know he wrote for adults until I had finished HOOT. Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Hoffman get it right, IMHO.

EDITED TO ADD: See the comments section and take a look at Monica Edinger's take on the book, too. She is spot on. I kept wanting to write down the things that made no sense, but I would have filled the notebook.

PPS: The audio is good; the book not so much. Here is an instance of an audio making a bok better than it is. The reverse is also, sadly, true.
Current Location: home
Current Mood: thinking hard
Current Music: Blinded Me with Science
(Anonymous) on August 12th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Hear Hear
Wow -- I had enough trouble reading it (and so could do some major skimming), but to have to listen to it? Yikes. (In case you didn't see it, my take is here: http://medinger.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/john-grishams-theodore-boone-kid-lawyer/)

I really admire Carl Hiassen's efforts to write for children. He gets better with each book. While I wasn't particularly impressed with HOOT as I felt he was trying too hard to rework his adult tropes and characters in one-note/PG ways, I liked FLUSH and thought SCAT was terrific (and sorely overlooked).
(Anonymous) on August 12th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Hear Hear
Oops, always forget to identify myself when responding to a LJ post --- that was from Monica Edinger!
proseandkahnproseandkahn on August 12th, 2010 04:46 pm (UTC)
I read with my ears as well and suffered from severe muscle strain due to constant eye-rolling. Puh-leeze - an all boy government class, in eighth grade? Really? All boys in public school? A class where the teacher can't arrange for the class trip and one in which he abdicates regularly so that Theo can lecture? And what about the plot holes big enough to drive a golf cart through?

Yes, the adults who cross over must channel the child/ teen. But I think the ones that do cross over successfully have respect for their young audience. Not just milking the cash cow.


Faerlyn: rather be reading belle aerafaerlyn_darkelf on August 12th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
I love Joyce Carol Oates, I guess I also didn't know she wrote for adults! I really never got into Grisham, too 'meaty' for me to enjoy. I'm solidly in a YA fantasy groove now, keep recommending books so I can keep on reading, LOL!
(Anonymous) on September 16th, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
Not a fan
I read your review before finally getting my hands on the book (my reserved copy at the library came in the same day I found the audio-I opted for the audio). I don't know if I went into it skeptical as a result, but I found the book highly disappointing and nowhere near as riveting as Grisham's adult lawyer fare. I also felt like the reading of the book was not done as well as it could have been, although maybe it was hard for the reader to add depth to characters who didn't have any? I get audio books to help me not get aggravated on my daily commute to downtown. This one just added to it.--Katie