John Grisham’s “Calico Joe”

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Heart Warming Story of Forgiveness and Redemption

Book Reviewed by Dr. David P. Craig

Two of my favorite subjects are addressed in this book: Baseball and Redemption. Two definitions for redemption are as follows: (1) the action of being saved from sin, error, or evil; and (2) the action of regaining possession of something in exchange for a payment, or clearing a debt.

In this well-written short story by Grisham (I read it from cover to cover in one sitting), tells a gut wrenching story of an abusive alcoholic father (who happens to be a professional pitcher for the New York Mets); the story of his eleven year old son; and a rookie phenom nicknamed Calico Joe who is setting records left and right coming up to the majors with the Chicago Cubs.

From the three perspectives: alcoholic abusive father; young impressionable son; and talented young phenom Graham develops the story over what happens to each of these key “players” over the next thirty years. Without giving away the plot – the story keeps you gripped as you hope for a great ending. Grisham delivers (as usual) on developing a great plot that does not disappoint.

The reader is drawn in to the story from the get go, and Grisham continues to draw the reader into the story. It’s as if you are involved emotionally, spiritually, and at times, even physically with the characters of the story. The story is one of great lessons: the wasted or  unexamined life isn’t worth living; death is approaching fast – so make your life and relationships count; second chances are available; redemption and forgiveness are possible for everyone. I highly recommend this book as a terrific read that with an ending that is insightful, wise, and full of hope.

The Testament by John Grisham

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A DEEP PROBING INTO THE MEANING OF LIFE

Book Review By Dr. David P. Craig

Rarely does a work of fiction delve into the philosophical, existential, and theological realm with such insight and wisdom. Grisham, a great story teller, also weaves in this hard to put down novel, a contrast of two world-views: Materialistic Naturalism vs. Judeo-Christian. Jesus in Matthew 16:25-26 put it this way, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

This book brilliantly contrasts the wasted life characterized by the bulk of characters in the book: a multi-billionaire who leaves behind eleven billion dollars, all of his ex-wives, adult children, and a lawyer who has been in and out of rehabilitation for drugs and alcohol – who also has left behind a wake of disastrous and broken relationships. In the midst of this a lone figure stands as the hero of the story – an unselfish missionary doctor in an obscure area of Brazil who has spent the last eleven years of her life ministering to a primitive group of Indians.

Grisham paints a vivid picture of how greed, envy, addictions, lust, and selfishness destroy. He contrasts this with how someone at peace with God, and who loves unselfishly is fulfilled, satisfied, and full of joy. Those who gain the whole world in the end lose everything, and the one who lives for Jesus gains everything. Without being preachy, overtly theological, or even quoting a single Scripture – Grisham tells the biblical story without using a single biblical character or reference. It’s a story of redemption, hope, and purpose. I highly recommend The Testament as a testament that reveals two contrasting viewpoints of reality in a powerful and compelling way.