Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Grisham, John. Skipping Christmas. New York: Doubleday, 2001.

🙂 🙂 🙂

(Note, books are rated from one to five smiley faces, one being a book I didn’t like very much, and five being a book  I loved.)

If you discovered John Grisham way back with The Firm, like I did, you maybe forget he’s more than just one of many writers of  gripping, but ultimately not very memorable, legal thrillers. No, he’s  a step above that, a very good writer, who can also be funny and who endears you to his characters, even characters like Luther Krank, our protagonist for this Christmas tale. Then again, maybe I was just endeared to old Luther because, as I mentioned in my post on The Quiet Little Woman, I’m a bit of a Scrooge, and so is Luther. Some might argue that it was somewhat over-the-top to name this “Scrooge-y” character “Krank,” but I liked Grisham’s pun. Besides, most Christmas stories are fables, and fables are meant to be transparent.

Poor Luther. When we first meet him, he’s busy sending his only daughter off to work for the Peace Corps in the wilds of Peru. It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, a horrible day to be taking your daughter to the airport, and, to top it off, it’s pouring. Nonetheless, his wife Nora makes him drive to the specialty market where he can’t find parking, and when he offers to go into the store for his wife (because he’s parked in Timbuktu, and underneath it all, he’s actually a decent guy who doesn’t want his wife to get wet), he steps into a pothole ankle-deep in freezing cold water (the fact his ankle is affected is actually a bit of foreshadowing, but I won’t tell you anymore than that).

This sort of thing goes on enough — as well as the fact that both Luther and Nora are going to be at a loss this first Christmas without their daughter — that Luther decides he and Nora are going to skip Christmas this year and leave for a Caribbean cruise on Christmas day. I have to admit that I was quite envious of their plan (a minister’s wife cannot skip Christmas, no matter how much she proclaims that Easter is the holiday that is the true meaning of our faith. After all, there would be no Easter without Christmas). They weren’t just skipping Christmas day, though. They planned to skip it all: the cards, the parties, the presents, the decorations. Everything.

Unfortunately, the Kranks didn’t happen to live in a place as friendly as Lancaster County. Neighbors might be a little confused if someone around here announced plans to skip Christmas, but then he’d probably be slapped on the back with a “Good for you. How can I help?” But, no, poor Luther’s neighbors are annoyed with him. So are his office mates. So are the women in Nora’s various volunteer organizations. Nobody supports them in their decision.

They feel quite alone — well, until the end, when true, neighborly love is shown. But I don’t want to ruin it for you. You’ll have to read it if you want to see what happens. Just be prepared for some laugh-out-loud episodes along the way.