Book Review: The Appeal by John Grisham

By Ana Downes

“The Appeal” is a fascinating and suspenseful story with the theme of corporate corruption, greed and the disappointing reality of our justice system. I consider John Grisham to be one of the best authors of our time. He has written over 36 novels over the span of over 30 years. He specializes in legal thrillers. At least ten of his novels have been turned into very successful blockbuster film adaptations starring A-list actors such as Matt Damon, Mathew McConaughey and Tom Cruise!

         All of Grisham’s novels are incredibly detailed and very accurate from a legal standpoint. His deep knowledge of the courtroom and legal system as a former lawyer gives him a huge advantage as a writer in this genre. This profound understanding gives his stories great depth. Even though this novel is entirely related to the legal system and features characters who are lawyers, you certainly do not need to be versed in law to understand or appreciate the story. The vocabulary is high-level but uncomplicated.

         The characters in this novel are both realistic and compelling. Some may even say that they are a little too close to the real world, what with the loathsome Wall Street billionaire and chemical company owner Carl Trudeau whose greed has no limits. Carl’s character profile of a ruthless CEO with no regard for the people around him rings a bit too true to reality.

         The story itself is very captivating. John Grisham has mastered the art of suspense and keeps readers on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what will happen with every chapter. The plotline is interesting and highly engaging. It is eye-opening and makes you think about the hard truth regarding our legal system and ‘justice’ as we know it.

         Jeanette Baker is a grief-stricken widow who loses both her beloved child and her husband because of the ignorance of Carl’s company, Krane Chemical. Due to the dumping of excess chemicals into the water supply of a small town called Bowmore, the town becomes a “cancer cluster” town – one of the worst in history. Hundreds of innocent people die.

         Mary Grace and Wes Payton are lawyers at a small firm in Bowmore and sacrifice everything to take on Jeanette’s case. After receiving a stunning verdict, Wes, Mary Grace and their client are ecstatic. But they know it’s not over yet… they still have the appeal. Mary Grace and Wes are very likeable characters who you will definitely find yourself rooting for throughout the story.

         I especially liked the moral and point Grisham was trying to convey throughout this novel. The ending was rather unconventional, and I must confess that I was greatly disappointed by it (I admit I sort of felt like throwing the book against a wall the first time I finished it). However, after reflecting, I came to the upsetting conclusion that the end chosen by Grisham is truly the most accurate and realistic outcome of such a case. Even though I was upset at first, I do respect John Grisham’s choice not to sugar-coat it.

         Overall, this was a suspenseful and compelling read. Despite being disappointed by the ending, I appreciate that John Grisham chose to convey the hard truth about the flaws of our legal system. It is a snap to reality and opens your eyes to the ruthlessness and actuality of human greed, leaving you with much to think about after it is finished.

         I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a suspenseful read, and particularly to those interested in law.

Rating – 4 / 5