Bestselling author, John Grisham published his first book, Time to Kill, in 1989 – and, currently with more than 25 books and 275 million copies in print, has established himself as a leader in adult legal thrillers. Now, with Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer, Grisham produces an equally riveting and suspenseful tale for young adults.
Thirteen year old Theodore Boone may seem like an ordinary teenager: he roots for the Twins, complains about his mom and dad’s quirky routines and has a secret crush on a pretty, older woman; yet, unlike most boys his age, he is wholly obsessed with (and incredibly versed in) the law. He knows the local clerks, lawyers, and judges like most boys know the lineup of their favorite baseball team; he navigates the town courthouse with ease and confidence. He has such knowledge of the law that fellow students often turn to him for legal advice – about everything from bankruptcy to animal welfare - which he dispenses with mature astuteness out of a small closet in his parents law firm.
At the beginning of the novel, we learn that Theodore – and the entire town of Strattenburg – is obsessed by their own ‘trial of the century’. Peter Duffy is accused of murdering his wife to get a $1,000,000 life insurance pay out. But did he do it? Watching the Opening Statements from the second floor balcony with his 8th Grade Government Class, Theodore dissects the case with the intellect and clarity of a seasoned attorney. It is clear to him that Duffy is guilty – yet the evidence is purely circumstantial and there is no definite forensic evidence. A guilty man may walk free.
Theodore is merely a spectator - until he is asked for legal advice once again: an acquaintance knows someone who witnessed Duffy at the murder scene and saw him dispose of a piece of evidence. Suddenly, Theodore is thrust into the center of the crime of the century - what he knows can change the course of the entire trial.
Grisham spins a tale that is difficult to put down. His writing is exciting and dramatic, written in a perfect, easy, kid-friendly tone. Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer is also an amazing textbook of legalese - Theodore defines and explains both simple terms, such as circumstantial evidence, defense and prosecution, and more complex ideas such as burden of proof. It’s a lesson in the American Justice system wrapped up in an exciting page-turner (kids won’t even realize they are learning!). Theodore is a very likeable protagonist, and you can’t help but root for him as he struggles with what to do.
Although the language and ease of the book appears to be written for ages 8 and up, the subject is better suited for kids 12+ - there are plenty of serious subjects touched upon, if only briefly – divorce, love interests, possible child endangerment, drunk driving, drug use. For older pre-teens and teenagers, it’s a winner.
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
By John Grisham
Dutton Children’s Books
A must read for 12+