Writer: John Grisham
Publisher: Dell Mass Market Reissue (2005)
Bought at: Kinokuniya Nge Ann City (bonus of Sycamore Row)
I decided to reread A Time To Kill because I want to refresh my memory when I read Sycamore Row, the sequel of that famous Grisham’s book. Moreover, when I bought Sycamore Row, A Time To Kill came as a bonus, so I guess it’s time to dig over it one more time.
I remember A Time To Kill as the strongest Grisham’s book, his best probably, with the legendary Jake Brigance, one of the most favorite characters in the popular fiction world. But…. As always with rereading, there are some surprises you found along the way, the different feeling than the one you remember you had before. Those moments you thought you loved so much turned out to be not that great after all, or that character who could make you fall in love when you read the book for the first time, was actually a moron 😀
So, I made a short list of the differences I felt or found out when rereading this book. And of course, there are still some points that I could use to justify why I loved this book so much – and still feel the same after so many years had passed.
Jake Brigance, the hero
I used to love him so much and I thought he was one of the most charming characters Grisham ever created. It’s still true, in a way, but I also feel that he has some flaws too. He’s a good lawyer but he’s an arrogant guy. He loves his family but he’s super overprotective that sometimes it felt annoying. He’s rude with his secretary, he’s selfish because he thought mainly about his reputation- and not about how this case could endanger other people’s lives, including his secretary’s. He wanted the case so bad because at first he wanted to be famous and become a spotlight of the media, not because he cared so much of his client.
He’s okay, but he’s not perfect.
And I kinda surprised when I realized it’s not easy to create a lovable character. I still like Jake Brigance, but I don’t love him like I used to. It’s like realizing your first love is actually only a crush.
The theme and plot
A Time To Kill still has strong and good theme and plot, but it’s not as relevant as when it’s first published. Carl Lee Hailey, a black man in Clanton, Mississippi, murdered the rapists who raped his young daughter. Jake Brigance decided to become Hailey’s lawyer and defended him. It’s a controversial case with lots of racial tension, but probably not as controversial as many true cases that we have these days. The Ku Klux Klan seemed a bit old fashioned, only a bunch of rednecks really, not as relevant as they’re used to be.
A Time To Kill is still a classic, the father of all courtroom drama fictions, but when I reread it, I can’t feel the excitement that I felt before- some of the scenes are too dragging, slow and not as intense as I remember. But still, there some memorable moments, which lead me to:
The courtroom drama
The courtroom drama is still intense, brilliant, full of suspense. John Grisham is the master of legal fiction and I would never doubt him. A Time To Kill is his best courtroom drama fiction till date. (I haven’t read Sycamore Row, though, so maybe this is not really valid). But the courtroom drama, along with some old memorable characters like Lucien and Harry Rex (both are crazy lawyers and Jake’s friends), are the reasons why I still can enjoy A Time to Kill. I hope I will enjoy Sycamore Row, too. We’ll see 🙂
How about you? Any interesting experience while rereading your favorite books?