Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 06/01/2010 Gr 6–8— While the ending may be anticlimactic, Grisham brings to his crossover bid the lapidary prose and frank insider's view of this country's legal system that makes his adult best sellers so absorbing. Only 13 but already so much a lawyer in his own mind that he keeps an "office" at home and dispenses legal advice to classmates and even adults, Theo finds himself in over his head when he's told in strict confidence that there's an eyewitness to a high-profile local murder whose perp is about to walk due to lack of evidence. That witness is an illegal immigrant, and so is understandably afraid of coming forward. What to do? Grisham injects occasional side remarks into the narrative (students in Theo's school are gender-separated "according to a new policy adopted by the smart people in charge of educating all the children in town,") and he embroiders Theo's dilemma with intriguing public and behind-the-scenes looks at courts, lawyers, and the realities of the judicial process. He also sets up the plot to move in ominous directions in future episodes—which partly, at least, compensates for leaving the murder trial unresolved at the end of this one. Expect heavy publicity-driven demand.-John Peters, New York Public Library - Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2010 As the son of two successful lawyers, thirteen-year-old Theodore Boone has essentially grown up in the judicial system, and he knows every judge, bailiff, and attorney in his small town. The trial of his lifetime is about to begin at the local courthouse, and our resourceful protagonist uses his many connections to snag balcony seats for his government class-purely for educational purposes, mind you-on opening day. As an aspiring legal expert himself (he doles out advice on bankruptcy, animal ordinances, and drug charges to his classmates), Theo is probably far more interested in the murder case than his fellow eighth-graders, but after receiving some sensitive information regarding the guilt of the accused party, he finds himself a bit too close to the trial for comfort. A rather quirky combination of Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, Theo is a good kid whose ambition and cleverness make him a perfect candidate to play the hero. In fact, Theo is almost too good, a fact that becomes clear when he decides go to his parents with his sensitive information, at which point the adults circle the wagons and take care of things in the way that adults do. Sure, it’s probably the right thing for Theo to do, but where’s the fun in that? Moreover, where’s the drama in this supposed legal drama? Despite its lackadaisical conclusion, Grisham’s prose is breezy and accessible even when explaining the finer points of the justice system. The pace moves quickly enough, and kids will probably find Theo a likable guy, even if they hope that there’s a little more thrill in his next adventure. KQG - Copyright 2010 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.

Booklist - 06/01/2010 After years of taking on lawyers of the adult persuasion, best-selling writer Grisham turns to a lawyer who’s only 13. Well, Theo Boone hasn’t taken the bar, but he offers advice to his friends, hangs out at the courthouse, and watches Perry Mason reruns. Things turn serious, however, when a witness to a murder, a young illegal immigrant, comes to Theo with evidence. The trial is in full swing, and it looks like the defendant will walk unless Theo comes forward. But he’s promised the young man he will keep his identity confidential. What should he do? Grisham doesn’t have the whole writing-for-kids thing down quite yet. His style, a little stiff, sometimes seems as if it’s written for an earlier era. In one howler, he introduces Theo’s teacher: “He always addressed them as ‘men’ and for thirteen-year-olds there was no greater compliment.” The moral dilemma Grisham poses is interesting, but when Theo (logically) calls in the adults, it loses tension. Problem-solver Theo sometimes seems like a sophisticated Encylopedia Brown, and as with the boy detective, expect to see more of him. - Copyright 2010 Booklist.

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