Michelle's Reviews > The Appeal

The Appeal by John Grisham
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's review
Oct 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: legal, adult-fiction
Read in October, 2011

Alright...well, I admit that I read a few one and two star reviews before posting mine because I wanted to read what the nay-sayers had to say about the book. I was pretty sure I knew what they wouldn't like, and I was pretty sure I would disagree. I was right. I understand others' chagrin with Grisham's choice of ending, but I thought it was refreshing. It's about time someone bucked the system and didn't give us a patented ending, all tied up with a pretty bow.

So here is the deal. Mississippi just happens to be one of many states that elects it judiciary, including the members who sit on the supreme court of the state. Now you may think this is a good thing - leave it in the hands of the voter to decide who should make judicial rulings. But it is NOT! Judges, you see, should be free from the shackles of political biases so that they can make fair rulings without any pressure - decisions based on the merits of a case and the correct application of the law. The story explores what might happen if a supreme court judge just happened to be elected by a group hired by a man with money - billions of dollars, to be exact - and an agenda for winning a particular case.

I do not want to spoil the ending, and perhaps it is true that Grisham is making a political statement. Okay, so it's pretty obvious. Even if he is, so be it. He still tells a fast paced and satisfying story of the type that I had once come to expect from Grisham. And while the book deals with torts and mass tort litigation, unlike The King of Torts, the book has some meat on its bones.

Instead of decrying mass tort litigation involving large corporations (product manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies and the like), Grisham delves into the one on one cases where such companies should be held liable for polluting the water and creating dangerous products in cases involving just one plaintiff. Tort litigation is the seedy underbelly of the law. Still, there are several law suits out there - think Erin Brockovich - that deserve attention in our courts. Huge conglomerates should be held responsible when they skirt the law and poison the water, create dangerous drugs, or manufacture products that are unsafe.

Of course, you want the bad guy to get his due here. Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't. But Grisham leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable and perhaps a little guilty for playing into the game of big political campaign spending...naively believing everything one hears on t.v. about a candidate and his or her record based on a thirty-second commercial that takes sound bites completely out of the context in which they were meant to be be heard. He even makes one a bit uncomfortable with the idea the a judiciary is elected and that a judge would feel beholden to those who paid for his or her election. And in the end, I liked that he gave me something to think about.

It reminded me of The Client and The Rainmaker, and that is a good thing.
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