#BookReview: The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham

Needs More Showing And Less Telling. This is almost “Novel Writing 101” these days, but a classic and oft repeated bit of advice for new writers is that they should *show* the actions of their characters rather than *tell* the readers about it. Here, Grisham – a normally masterful storyteller and legend in the business – somehow manages to miss that, to the detriment of the overall tale here. The tale itself, a multi-generational saga tracing two families through 60 or so years of Coastal Mississippi history, is actually quite good. I was 15% into the tale before I even realized it, and not much had happened at that point. The back quarter to third or so could *really* have been quite legendary in its own right with more showing and less telling, but even in this format it was still a compelling tale. The ending is a bit abrupt and perhaps too open-ended for some readers, but other than the abruptness I thought it actually worked reasonably well. But getting there, across nearly 500 pages that other readers have compared to investigative nonfiction rather than an legal fictional thriller, can in fact be a bit of a slog. Still, other than the “show don’t tell” aspect, there really isn’t anything here to actually say “this is particularly bad” about. Thus, only the single star reduction. Still, this really is a great tale for those who can bear with it, and for that reason it is very much recommended.

This review of The Boys From Biloxi by John Grisham was originally written on October 17, 2022.

#BookReview: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

“So Many Secrets. So Many Lies. And So Much Anger.” Yes, the title of this review is a direct quote from the book. Yes, it is during the final 10%, when everything is being revealed and wrapped up. And yet you still have no idea what it actually refers to. 😉 But that particular line really does sum the book up in and of itself. This is a four person family consisting of mom and dad who have been married for over 20 years, 20 yo college dropout son, and 17yo high school junior daughter – and *every single one of them* are keeping secrets from all the others and actively lying to both the other people and themselves. Harding does a tremendous job of showing flawed, nuanced characters just trying to do what they think is right with limited information… sometimes with tragic results. No one comes out looking squeaky clean, and yet no one comes out looking overly monstrous either. Great job of showing just how murky real life often is. Very much recommended.

This review of The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding was originally written on May 27, 2021.