Title: Street Lawyer
Author: John Grisham
What's it about?
Michael Brock is a successful lawyer in a huge firm and is just a few years away from being named partner! But then a homeless man who calls himself "Mister" comes into his firms building, chooses his floor and takes a handful of people as hostages with no discernable end goal. The group find themselves trapped in the meeting room with a smelly, armed man who had the forethought to not only bring a gun, but strap himself with sticks of explosives as well, leaving the lawyers terrified for their life and frantically trying to devise a plan to escape the horror.
After managing to survive, Michael can't seem to look at life the same way again and finds himself in need of closure. He begins to ask questions in an effort to understand Mister, what he wanted, why he chose that specific law firm and to decipher some of the odd comments Mister uttered in that room. But in the process, he discovers so much more then he ever thought possible and soon he's reexamines his life choices, making new friends and finding understanding not just in Mister, but a whole population of people he had never thought about before.
Favorite character: Mordecai Green. He's got this great way of fighting and getting things done but he's a big ol' teddy bear, even if he's not the best driver. I love his gentle way of steering Michael to a new life without pressuring him or pushing him. And when you see him in action doing his job, it's awesome. In some ways, he reminds me of Atticus Finch.
Least Favorite Character: Honestly, I think it's Michael's wife. There are other people who don't understand, but his wife just seems heartless to me. I get that there's a lot of stuff she doesn't understand, but I feel like she doesn't quite care enough about him to try or even want to understand. She's more of a convenient wife, there when it's convenient for her and not when he needs her to be. And, in a lot of ways, I think that's harder to forgive then pure ignorance.
Favorite part: Forgive my vagueness as I try to avoid spoilers, but getting to see Mordecai in action is always awesome. But I think the court scene is my favorite. It's the part that confirmed that Mordecai really does have some Atticus Finch in him. I love seeing him fight for what he believes in with such passion without losing reason or control.
Least Favorite part: My least favorite part is, again, forgive my vagueness, the second event that kind of sets Michael down his new path. Watching that event unfold was hard for me. It was heartbreaking. But, it did it's job. It made me want to fight even harder. It made me invested in a population that not everyone would think deserves to be fought for.
"I thought you were a lawyer," I said, spreading peanut butter.
"I'm a human first, then a lawyer. It's possible to be both."
I loved this one because it opens up a complexity in Michael and Mordecai. It also reminds us that we are not one thing. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter. I am a reader, a writer, business owner. I am caring and inquisitive and accepting. I am many things. Together, those things make up who I am. And I think, sometimes, we need to be reminded that EVERYONE is more then just one thing.
Admittedly, I have seen more John Grisham movies then I've read books by him, but "Street Lawyer" has a different feel then the other John Grisham stories I've experienced. I felt like this story was less about the crimes and the law and more about the people and the personal journey they take. I kind of liked that. While I didn't dislike The Client (check out my review of that book, too here), I loved this story and the character arc Michael experiences.
In addition, the end wasn't what I expected. I expected a more suspenseful, action scene with high risks at the end to help resolve all of the problems. At first I was disappointed that this wasn't the case, but then I really appreciated it. I felt like, by not having a big fight scene or something of the like, it kept the focus on the characters and the changes they not only went though, but had helped to facilitate. It helped to relay the message that people are people no matter how they smell, where they live, how much money they have, ect.
I like the balance of characters. The lawyers weren't all "soulless", though some were colder then others. Some understood the plight of others, others were not cruel but ignorant and that ignorant drove their actions. On the other hand some people had understanding and that's what drove their actions. For every stereotypical character, there was at least one character that defies those stereotype.
However, I expected more insight into the homeless population, something that made me feel like my eyes had been opened up wider then ever before. That moment didn't come. Maybe it's because I'd already considered the different sort of stories many of the characters shared or maybe I just didn't look hard enough (is it possible for a habitual over analyzer to NOT look hard enough?) but I was disappointed. What didn't escape me, however, was the reminder that everyone has a story and we don't know the story of another until we listen. That's our job. To listen to the stories of others and try to be a helpful, positive character in their narrative, even if incredibly small; barely a blip in that story.
What do I rate this book?
I give this book a
10 missing files
But that's just what I thought? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Did you wish there was more action? Let us know in the comments.