Sunday, November 27, 2011

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham



75. Skipping Christmas
by John Grisham
fiction, 2001
second reading
second book for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge
finished, 11/26/11





From my book notes in April 2002:
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham 2001 A-
A couple's daughter flies to Peru the day after Thanksgiving to start a year of Peace Corps work. Her father decides that since she will not be home for Christmas, they should just skip the holiday, and use the money saved to go on a cruise. The year before they had spent $6100(!) on Christmas with nothing really to show for it. The wife agrees, though is a bit reluctant at the idea. The seemingly simple idea is much harder than they think it will be to carry out. I thought this would be just a light, humorous book, but it was more than that, and I really liked it. It had a lot to say about suburban life, family, friends, and life in general. A few funny moments, but on the whole, it was quite serious and thought provoking.
And approaching ten years later, I would say much the same thing. The gist of the tale, as noted above, is that Blair Krank, the twenty-three year old only child of Nora and Luther heads off for a year of Peace Corps work in Peru. For the first time in all those years the family will not be together for Christmas. Luther comes up with the idea of going on a cruise to a warm island, and letting go their usual Christmas activities.

From such a simple, honest, understandable alternative comes surprising mayhem. There are several instances of things I would call ridiculous. Here are just two examples:
1.Not giving to benevolent societies who come asking each year but saying they'll give to a summer fundraiser. Silly. They could certainly have still given, without disrupting their present Christmas plan.
2.The Kranks don't put up the Frosty on their roof which is a neighborhood tradition. So what appears on their lawn but a sign which says, 'Free Frosty' with a picture of the snowman trapped in the cellar with the Christmas decorations.

I could have done without those sorts of things, and would have been happier if the book had concentrated on the real situation. The daughter is away. The parents are sad. They spent money last year that was probably unnecessary. They decide to go on a cruise instead. Not a big deal. It isn't 'cranky' to do any of those things, so to me, even their last name is a silly play on words. On this second reading, I was interested in how I saw the negatives more. I still think Grisham had a good idea, but couldn't decide whether it was serious or slapstick.

And then, quite suddenly an event occurs - a pleasant one - which turns the Krank Christmas plans upside down. You probably all know the story but in case there are one or two readers of my letters who haven't read it, I won't give away the excitement toward the end of the book. Suffice it to say that after my irritations, I felt all warm and fuzzy again. Am I glad I read it again? Yes. Will I read it a third time? No. Would I recommend it? Yes, with some reservations. If you don't mind what they call in the movies, 'dramedies' then you might not mind the things that annoyed me. If you are fond of the movie Christmas Vacation, then you probably will appreciate the rather goofball humor. And if you like a good Christmas story with a happy ending, you will likely enjoy this, taking into account the hesitations I have noted. There really is a warm, cozy, loveable Christmas story inside the pages of the book, but this reader wishes it had been just that.






This is my second adult book for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge.

23 comments:

  1. $6,000 for Christmas? Now that's frightening, but I've never tallied our costs. Then again, if I add in our charity donations... very likely. Sounds like a very interesting book. I've never heard of this.

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  2. Yeah, I wondered about that too, Kay. Probably better that we don't add it up. :<)

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  3. We just watched the movie:
    Christmas with the Cranks, and enjoyed the humour in it and loved the conclusion...
    My daughter read the book and said that she enjoyed the character sketches in the story.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Joanne

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  4. Thanks Joanne, I didn't think I wanted to see the movie, but maybe I will now. The characters were quite well described.

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  5. I didn't realize that the movie was from a John Grisham book. Thanks for posting this.
    Ann

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  6. I really enjoyed this one when I read it a long time ago. I do remember my jaw dropping open when the $$ amunt that they spent on Christmas came up...totally blew me away!

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  7. We read this, Nan, for our fun Christmas book discussion (we always read something light for December) and, yes, it is a silly book, but, I did have myself a few good laughs. The movie is just as silly and full of laughs as well. Watch it for the mere fun of it.

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  8. I didn't for a while either, Ann.

    Staci, I wonder how much average people do spend.

    Penny, maybe I'll see it.

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  9. I love the book skipping Christmas and also the film Christmas with the Kranks.A real family film.

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  10. Not about Christmas...I was at my daughter's mother-in-law's House (whew!) the other day when I spied a set of old books so of course I had to look...they were Gladys Taber! She had never read them but the original owner of the books had named her own farm Stillmeadow. She offered to lend them, but I declined for the time being.

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  11. Have you ever read How Far to Bethlehem by Norah Lofts? It's my favorite adult Christmas book.

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  12. Madness and mayhem, thanks for coming by and leaving a note.

    Kristi, I haven't but thank you for the recommendation.

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  13. Pam, maybe she will even give them to you, since she hasn't read them! Wouldn't that be nice!

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  14. I am going to be looking for some Christmas reading. Sounds interesting. Not sure we spend even close to 6000$, at least I hope not! BTW Nan, I love your dog in the header. He or she looks so happy and peaceful! Our lab often has this look too. Oh and thanks for dropping by to see my Santa in the Pantry. ;)

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  15. I'm enjoying this Christmas Reading Challenge. I've got a book of short stories all set for tomorrow. Sadie is part Lab-the other part is Rotty. Interesting mix. :<)

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  16. Yep, that's exactly how I felt after reading it several years ago. And we tried to do the same thing (skip Christmas) a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, our area was hit with blizzard-like conditions and we had to cancel our much anticipated trip to Sannibel Island. This year, the tree is decorated and our "dance card" is quickly filling up. I'm ready to start baking and wrapping gifts. Christmas music (in our house) begins tomorrow!

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  17. Les, I remember you reading it, and that almost-trip. Our December 1 music is just the same - George Winston's December. In fact, you left a comment on my 2006 post about it!

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  18. I can't remember if I read this one before or after seeing the movie, but I remember liking it...and the film was hilarious. I think spending $6000 during Christmas is just absolutely ridiculous. I know I never come even close to that. Of course, if I was more well off, who knows! This is definitely a book everyone should read, in my opinion. Thanks for the review!

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  19. Michelle, I'm so enjoying writing about these Christmasy things for the challenge.

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  20. Well, our book club chose Skipping Christmas to read in December. Looks good. We will see how it goes. We review on January 9th.

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  21. Abejo, if you have a chance, maybe you could stop back and tell me what you thought of it.

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  22. Nan: OK, I will try to copy you on my review in January. I am the one that writes up the reviews for our club. I guess I will have to figure out how to copy you, but I have a month.

    Abejo

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  23. Oh my gosh, Abejo, I just thought it would be fun. Please don't bother if it is a lot of hassle. I was just interested to see how you liked it.

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