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September 12, 2013

Crime and retribution key to John Grisham’s “A Time to Kill”

John Grisham’s  A Time to Kill, set in Clanton, Mississippi, revolves around the rape of a young girl, the arrest of the rapists, and their subsequent murder by the girl’s father, Carl Lee Hailey. 

Before The Firm and The Pelican Brief made him a superstar, John Grisham wrote this riveting story of retribution and justice, which brings the reader deep into a searing courtroom drama that delves into the depths of racial violence and uncertain justice in a small southern town.

As the story unfolds, the life of a ten-year-old girl is shattered by two drunken and remorseless young man. The predominantly white community reacts with shock and horror at the inhuman crime, until her black father acquires an assault rifle and takes justice into his own outraged hands.

For ten days, as burning crosses and the crack of sniper fire spread through the streets of Clanton, the nation sits spellbound as young defense attorney Jake Brigance struggles to save both his client’s life and his own.

A Time to Kill is  infused with emotion but occasionally becomes redundantly descriptive, though it is “an easy read.”

It’s challenges on issues of rape and murder brought it to the  shelves of the American Library Association’s Banned Books in the American South, particularly in  Texas, despite the fact that its setting is Grisham’s home state of Mississippi. According to the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, Grisham’s works have been repeatedly challenged for depictions of violence, rape, and the use of “curse words.” It has been  repeatedly challenged or banned in Texas public schools for themes of racism and sexually-graphic material. Four of Grisham’s books have  been banned since 2005 in prisons across Texas for content that was deemed “inflammatory” by the prison system.

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