Book review | Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Hello lovelies,

I've been reading up a storm lately and have become quite the book snob. If I start reading a book I really can't bear, I have no issue with abandoning it at any stage - something I would rarely if ever do with a physical book.


Onto the review of Gray Mountain by John Grisham. Prior to this book I hadn't read anything by John Grisham for perhaps two decades, and as such I wasn't expecting much. What I thought would be a dull, plodding book after a few pages started to hook me and turned into a feel-good read with the message that values are more important than vast sums of money.

The book starts with our protagonist Samantha, who's going great guns at a Wall St law firm until the recession hits and she's effectively made redundant along with swathes of other people. There's a clause that says if she works at a non-profit for a year she'll keep health benefits and may get her job back after the year is up. The people ousted from the law firm are all scrabbling to secure positions at non-profits hoping they'll soon be making big bucks again, and positions fill fast.

Samantha takes a drive from New York to Brady, Virginia, which is portrayed as a hobunk town with barely more than 2000 inhabitants. There she meets Mattie, head of the local legal aid clinic, and gets involved in a lot more than paperwork, unlike her old job. She meets the poor townsfolk with complicated problems, many of them health problems caused by coal mining in Virginia and neighbouring states. 

At first Samantha feels a disconnect between her old world and new, and pines for the big city. Soon enough she starts to build relationships with the women she works with - who are written so warmly that you feel like you almost know them - and particularly with Donovan, the brooding and dangerous nephew of her new boss.

As the tale unfolds you read more about the destructive ways of the coal companies who are destroying vast swathes of land and making hundreds of miners sick with black lung. Greed and callousness is their modus operandi, but tempered against this cruelty is a human story of good people making the difference where they can. I don't want to give too much away, other than to say that soon enough Samantha realises there are more important things in the world than big law firms and big pay cheques.

I try not to read official book reviews before I read a book as I want to go into it with an open mind, and I'm glad I didn't in this case as I would've passed it over. A lot of reviews say the book is dull, but I disagree. A book is only as good as the characters in it, and John Grisham writes bloody good characters.

It's not necessarily a quick page turner, and it's not a love story either. If good vs evil themes are your bag, then you could do a lot worse than give this a read. I'm going to catch up with his back catalogue at some point in the future.

Amazon: Kindle/Hardcover

Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend.
Leah xoxo

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