The Last Juror

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Prominent Lawyer-turned-author John Grisham’s book The Last Juror combines the elements of law and journalism into an interesting story about a small town, a college dropout and twelve unsuspecting jurors.

In the year 1970, 23-year-old William Traynor, a former Syracuse University student,  has moved to a small town in Ford County, Mississippi upon his acquisition of the town’s aging newspaper, The Ford County Times. Although initially halfhearted about running the newspaper, he soon finds his business booming after a major homicide is committed and the public turns to his paper as a major source of details. When the defendant, Danny Padgitt, is convicted in the trial by twelve jurors, he threatens retaliation in open court. While people dismiss his threat as empty and meaningless, it’s only a number of years later that Padgitt’s words become real. What happens to the last juror? Read the book to find out.

Grisham’s previous experience as a lawyer and extensive knowledge of the law gives him an advantage in writing about law. The portrayal of the courtroom scenes felt realistic and believable. However, there were times I felt that Grisham focused so much on the law details, they overshadowed the plot a little bit. I found some sections unnecessary to the plot, feeling they were just filler material.

Being a journalism student, I was attracted to the book because of the journalism aspect. In 1970, with there being no Internet, people looked to newspapers as their major source of news. One of the only communication tools between the law and the public came from a printing press, took time to assemble and required more than a few people working on it. As opposed to nowadays, when many reporters can live Tweet from courtrooms, instantly delivering details to thousands of people. It appealed to me, reading how reporters collected their information and wrote their stories without the aid of technology.

Another aspect that stood out to me was the protagonist’s background. Even though Willie Traynor never properly finishes journalism school, he still becomes a successful journalist. I’m not suggesting that dropping out of the college is the right decision and will necessarily make somebody successful. Rather, I’m highlighting how instead of making the protagonist a proud graduate who is on top of the world, Grisham chose to portray somebody, despite not being the superior in their field, can still have the knowledge and capability to accel. Inspiring, in a way.

Overall, being an interesting portrayal of 1970s life and a way to learn aspects of journalism and the law, this was good read.


The Fault in Our Stars

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Penned by popular young adult author John Green, The Fault in Our Stars covers the topics of terminal illness, traveling, death, love and sacrifice.

16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster has been living her life monotonously since her diagnosis with thyroid cancer a few years back, spending most of her time at home. Encouraged by her somewhat overprotective yet loving parents; she reluctantly attends a weekly support group where fellow cancer patients share their experiences. Although Hazel halfheartedly participates in these sessions, her attendance proves worthwhile when she meets and befriends Augutus “Gus” Waters at one of them. Although their attitude toward each other is initially tentative, the two eventually develop a relationship. A relationship that quickly turns into an important journey of realization and discovery for both of them, involving a novel, a pivotal trip to the Netherlands, and a shocking revelation. What is the revelation? Read the book to find out.

Both Hazel’s and Gus’ characters provides important insight and perspective into the situation of being young and sick. While it’s already difficult to navigate the typical teenage journey, the notion of possibly not living too much longer only makes the situation more treacherous.To me, her perspective illustrates how most people take their life for granted, not realizing how lucky they are to be happy and healthy. This is especially true when it comes to forming and keeping relationships with people, since it can be affected by how long somebody can live.

I applaud Green’s choice of making the narrator a girl, a change from his previous novels, where the protagonists were all boys. It’s interesting to see how  an author can effectively convey emotions when writing from the perspective of the opposite gender. To me, this choice made the book more relatable and creates an appeal for a female demographic.

 There were a few elements that I found somewhat predictable, such as the romance between Hazel and Gus. However,  the slight predictability is overshadowed by the uniqueness and spontaneity of the plot.

A true tearjerker, The Fault in Our Stars is definitely a worthwhile read, highlighting how precious living life really is.