The Scandal (Theodore Boone #6), by John Grisham

Seven stars

Grisham returns with another ‘Theo Boone: Child Lawyer’ stories, sure to entertain the young reader as well as those who are young at heart. As high school is on the horizon, so begins the onerous task of eighth grade standardised testing, something that Theo cannot stand. After a rigourous week of testing and waiting for the results, Theo fails to make the cut for high school honor classes by a single point. Devastated, he and his best friend, April Finnemore, wallow in their own self-pity. When April confides that she has learned about another of the middle schools fudging test answers in order to elevate their standing, Theo is outraged. April takes it upon herself to anonymously complain about the issue to the school board, sure that nothing will come of it. When fraud charges are levied against a number of teachers who changed test answers and their jobs are lost, Theo comes to realise that he cannot stand idly by, even if their actions are deplorable. Bringing his mother into the mix, Theo ensures the teachers receive legal counsel ahead of the trial. An interested party to the matter, namely because the revised results could change his academic standing in high school, Theo aptly watches the trial and has an epiphany of his own, rooted in his own dislike for the testing process. On the subject of trials, no Theo Boone novel would be the same without a trip to Animal Court, where Theo works his magic to save an otter from a potential capital sentence. A great story for the targeted audience that touches on a matter close to their hearts, Grisham dazzles yet again.

Grisham seeks not only to entertain, but also touches on issues of interest to youths and adults alike. Placing not only the testing process, but the actions taken based on results, Grisham forces the reader to think a little more about the subject at hand. Using a cast of characters familiar to series fans, Grisham offers the right dose of cheesy storylines that layer nicely with serious matters. He is able to touch on a new generation of readers, educating and enthralling them before they leap into the murky world of the law, where Grisham has been thriving with bestsellers for three decades. Even though the target is the young adult reader, any fan of Grisham’s work can surely enjoy this piece.

Kudos, Mr. Grisham, for another wonderful piece of writing. No matter your audience, as long as the law is your theme, you seem to captivate and succeed.