Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

September 16, 2010

Plot summary (with spoilers): Theodore Boone is a precocious 13-year-old kid who wants to be a lawyer. Both his parents are lawyers, and in their small town of Strattenburg, that means Theo gets access to the courthouse, judges, and other personnel that your average Joe wouldn’t be able to meet with. Theo is a good kid, though, and uses his connections to help his classmates and friends.

Strattenburg is abuzz because of a murder trial in which a local man named Peter Duffy is accused of killing his wife in order to collect her $2 million life insurance policy. Theo is able to get his entire government class into the trial for opening arguments, despite the courtroom being standing room only because of the sensational nature of the case. Later on, Theo ends up talking to a surprise witness who can turn the whole case around.

Besides the Duffy murder case, Theo helps a classmate’s family learn about bankruptcy, gets the cutest girl in school’s dog out of trouble in Animal Court, and generally acts like someone who is 23 years old, not 13.

Liked:

  • I’m glad this book didn’t end with Theo saving the day and putting Mr. Duffy behind bars because of the surprise witness. A mistrial was a much more logical conclusion and was a more believable way to go.

Disliked:

  • Oh, come on… does Grisham expect us to believe that there’s anyone as pure and good as Theodore Boone out there? This kid acted like a saint, what with always doing everything his parents told him, spending time with his disgraced uncle, and even helping out at the friggin’ homeless shelter. I get that Grisham was probably trying to make Theo a role model for the kids in his intended audience, but give me a break. Would any preteen actually buy that a kid like Theo exists??
  • Some of Theo’s “cases” were ridiculous. Are there really adults in this day and age that don’t know about bankruptcy being an option when you have no money left??? Do 13-year-olds really not know what a mortgage is? Sure, they might not understand the intricacies of the document, but they no doubt know it’s a loan for a house. Don’t they??? Good lord.
  • This boy was 13, but not interested in girls yet? Nor were the girls at all interested in the boys? Wow, Grisham, this isn’t the 1950s anymore! Lots of kids are actively dating by that age. Most of it is pretty innocent stuff: movies, hand-holding, kissing. But still, teenagers that young do date!

Rating:

Obviously Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham is intended for younger readers, so my criticism of the book is probably not all that valid. Still, thinking back to when I was 13 and reading Stephen King, I cannot imagine being entertained by this kind of patronizing, condescending, unbelievable nonsense. It certainly isn’t something that an aspiring Texas truck accident lawyer or any other kind of attorney-to-be would actually learn from. If pre-teens are already thinking about becoming lawyers, they ought to be reading much headier stuff than this anyway. I give the book 2 stars out of 5.

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