This isn’t a review on an ‘A Time to Kill’, but rather my thoughts on this book and why I chose to reread it. I can count on two hands the books that I’ve reread in my life. It’s just something that I don’t do. The books that I have reread I’ve done so because they have been my best of the best. My classics. My future leather bounds for my future acre sized library.
This one easily qualifies to be in that list.
I’m not sure when I read this book for the first time but I remember reading it and feeling like “daaaamn”. Brutal, hard, and uncomfortably engrossing. ‘A Time to Kill’ was John Grisham’s first book and having just read it (again), this guy had to have balls of STEEL to write this one. Why? Because this white man from Mississippi uses the word ‘nigger’ more times than a rap concert in Harlem. Featuring Ice-T. When he’s angry. No wonder this book was rejected twenty-eight times! Now I will say that the use of the word ‘nigger’ wasn’t used in a gratuitous manner. Meaning, he used it because it needed to be used. I just didn’t remember how much it was used.
As a Black man that grew up in South Carolina I despise that word like no other because I’ve seen it used is the worst possible ways. I don’t use it at home and I don’t use it around my family. I won’t say that I’ve never used it because that would be a big fat ass lie, but it is not a part of my everyday language. What struck me in this book was how interchangeable the word ‘nigger’ was with the word ‘black’ or ‘black person’. So much so that white people would say ‘nigger’ around their Black friends and their Black friends don’t even bat an eye. This story takes place in Southern Mississippi but still!
I also forgot just how brutal the opening of this book is. The rape would suffice as being horrific but the aftermath that these two bubba’s subjected that ten year old girl just makes you cringe. I enjoyed this book as much if not more the second time around. I even managed to make a couple of folks look at me like I had lost my damn mind in the Carl’s Jr. I was reading the opening of the trial and Jake came out of left field and asked the two mothers of the child rapist the same question. Priceless in the questions, and priceless how John wrote it.
I reread this book because the sequel, ‘Sycamore Row’ comes out October 22, 2013 and I really wanted to be fresh with the story and the characters. I’m glad I did and now I REALLY can’t wait! Folks say that this book is one of Grisham’s best and I would have to agree with that. This isn’t just one of his “lawyer” stories; this is a story about hatred, revenge, flawed hero’s, a justice system with her own issues, and some pretty colorful (Lucien) characters.
There are no time expirations on books so if you haven’t read ‘A Time to Kill’ then there are a million and one way for you to do so. But I would push it closer to the top of your “to read” pile because ‘Sycamore Row’ comes out in a few months and it’s going to hit with the force of a Mississippi Tsunami. You’ll want to be ready when it does.