Saint Ben – by John Fischer (1993)

Saint Ben


Remember that one friend you had as a kid that was like no other friend? He or she liked weird things, said what they really thought, and did stuff that everyone else would be embarrassed to do. You were drawn to this friend because he or she was so genuine, but you felt traditional and ordinary in comparison. You made an odd pair, but the friendship worked. Such is the friendship of Ben and Jonathan in the story “Saint Ben”.

Ben is the new preacher’s kid. Jonathan is the choir director’s son. The two boys develop a tight friendship, and are soon inseparable. They work on building miniature houses, delivering newspapers, and promoting the 1958 Edsel car. In his spare time, Ben comes up with pranks to liven up church, and Jonathan is his accomplice. You’ll laugh at the crazy things the boys get into.

I loved the conversations that Ben and Jonathan had throughout the book. Their chats go from trivial things to deep matters and back again. The serious and the silly are blended together perfectly. If you’re looking for a book about friendship in the 1950’s in a small town, this is your book.

Gray Mountain – by John Grisham (2014)

Gray Mountain


The latest Grisham novel begins in Manhattan, where Samantha Kofer is a lawyer in a mega firm, working 90 hours a week. Then the recession of 2008 hits, and the job is gone. She finds pro bono work in the small Appalachian town of Brady. Instead of just doing paperwork in an office, she is now meeting the actual clients – ordinary people who find themselves in desperate situations and need her legal expertise.

I enjoyed reading a Grisham novel with a lead female character, which Mr. Grisham has only done one other time that I can think of (The Pelican Brief). Samantha is someone that everyone affected by the housing crash of 2008 can identify with. You share her sense of dread as she watches things fall apart, her despair as she loses her job, her anxiety as she job-hunts, her resignation to a less glamorous lifestyle, and her adjustment to a new way of life.

Although this is not Mr. Grisham’s best novel (The Testament, Runaway Jury, and Sycamore Row are my favorites), it is certainly a book you will enjoy from cover to cover.

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