Friday, October 14, 2011

Hooked from the Start, Part 3: A Painted House by John Grisham

"The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a 'good crop'.”

Those are the beginning words of John Grisham's A Painted House. This series started out as a forum on First Lines as Hooks to get people reading and if they impacted my choice of reading material. As I go through some of my very favorite novels, I have discovered that the first words did not do so for the most part. I avoided reading John Grisham's A Painted House because I thought it was going to be a sappy sentimental journey and I prefer to read his legal thrillers. However, when it was announced that the novel would be made for television, I hurriedly read it and was amazed at how much I liked it. And strangely, that very first sentence did hook me!

Although the novel takes place in Arkansas, much of it reminded me of my early days on a farm in rural Oklahoma. Granted, we didn't have Mexicans or hill people but the overall setting, the small town and life in general was reminiscent of my childhood. As an adult, I have lived in Mexico and I was thrilled with the way Grisham portrayed his Mexican characters. The story is narrated by a seven year old boy named Luke and he observes things that no seven year old should see including violence and murder.

But this is the kind of story a reader doesn't want to end. At least I didn't. And yes, in a way, that first line did hook me although I knew I was going to read it before the TV show aired.