Author: John Grisham
Genre: YA Legal Thriller
Target audience: 10+
Summary from Goodreads:
A perfect murder
A faceless witness
A lone courtroom champion knows the whole truth . . . and he’s only thirteen years old
Meet Theodore Boone
In the small city of Strattenburg, there are many lawyers, and though he’s only thirteen years old, Theo Boone thinks he’s one of them. Theo knows every judge, policeman, court clerk—and a lot about the law. He dreams of being a great trial lawyer, of a life in the courtroom.
But Theo finds himself in court much sooner than expected. Because he knows so much—maybe too much—he is suddenly dragged into the middle of a sensational murder trial. A cold-blooded killer is about to go free, and only Theo knows the truth.
When you hear that a huge name in adult fiction is branching out into the YA market, you can't help but be curious. Add to that the fact that John Grisham has invented a whole new genre -The Young Adult Legal Thriller - and well, I jumped at the chance to review this and I'm really glad I did. Theodore Boone: Young Lawyer has such a broad appeal. Anyone from ten to ninety-two would enjoy this book. Theo is thirteen and he is a rather peculiar teen. He spends his spare time at the court house and he watches trial after trial. His parents are both lawyers. His mum Marcella Boone is a divorce lawyer. His dad Woods Boone is a real estate lawyer. Theo is passionate about the law and justice. He cannot decide if he wants to be a criminal laywer or a judge. We enter Theo's life at a very exciting time. The biggest trial ever to come to the city of Strattenberg is about to begin. A man - Pete Duffy - is accused by the prosceution of murdering his wife. Theo is desperate to watch every second of the trial but like most thirteen year olds he has to go to school. Luckily for Theo, his Government teacher is an ex-lawyer so his class do get to watch the opening statements.
On the surface it is hard to work out how a teen protagonist could be a lawyer but Grisham really makes it work. Many of Theo's fellow pupils come to him for help. He has his own little office at the back of his parents' law firm and that in itself made this book a joy to read. I can see that it will have an immense appeal to kids who feel powerless in an adult dominated world. Theo uses his parents' access codes to get into all sorts of important websites. It is very cool and although it doesn't sound believeable, it is written in such a way that you really don't care. You are too busy having a fun time learning about the criminal justice system through Theo's explanations of the law to his friends.
The characterisation in this book was quirky and a little comedic. Theo's parents are very habitual people (like me actually). They eat at the same time everyday. They go to the same places at the same time every week. It really made me laugh because I am so like this. Perhaps I should have been a lawyer rather than a librarian? The plot is also really well crafted. The main case of the state versus Mr Duffy is the main engine driving through the story but then there are also all these little cases that Theo resolves for his clients. It works really well and keeps you interested while you're hearing about how the trial is unfolding.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Theodore Boone. It has a definite appeal to fans of murder mysteries and crime novels. It is a very easy read and fast paced. The fact that there is no swearing, no violence and no sexual content means that I would be more than happy for a nine/ ten year old to read this. The issue of the murder is dealt with very clinically and so no worries there either. Theodore Boone is a great quirky read that will teach you about all about criminal law and at the same time amuse and entertain you. I can't wait for the next instalment. Just super fun!
Thanks to Just So for asking me to review this.