When I was a high school English teacher and would teach the kids how to write a persuasive essay or how to debate, I would always tell them to stay away from issues that were based solely in morality and/or religious beliefs. To me, these issues were not effectively debatable - there would always be good points on both sides, with no clear winner. Capital punishment, to me, is one of those issues, but Grisham does an interesting job of covering it in his novel, The Confession.
In almost every Grisham novel, there is a lawyer. In this book, that lawyer is Robbie Flak. Then, there has to be a crime. That crime this time is the rape and murder of a high school cheerleader named Nicole Yarber. Then there must be a murderer, and this is where it gets tricky. There is an African American boy named Donte' who has been convicted of the crime after a seemingly coerced confession. There was no other real evidence other than that confession, which Donte' recanted because later he realized that no one was going to figure out the real truth, his last ditch hope after he was mercilessly bullied into signing the confession. Now enter the real killer, a convicted rapist named Travis Boyette (am I wrong or has Grisham used this last name in another novel?)who has had a pang of guilt as he suffers from a brain tumor. He finds a minister to hear him out, and as planned, gets involved in saving Donte' from death by lethal injection.
Is The Confession a twising tale that keeps you reading? Yes. An interesting, fictionalized look at the death penalty? Maybe. Contain wonderfully, deep characters different from any of Grisham's others? Nah. Does the novel make you think about the virtues or moral pitfalls of the death penality in America today? It certainly did for me. It made me ask myself the question: If even one innocent man could die this way, is it worth it to get rid of all the other terrible criminals that seem beyond "redeption?" And another: "How do we decide which rapist, which murderer, which crime is worthy of such a punishment?" So, to sum it up fo me, it was a very good read but contains a lot of stereotyped characters that are a bit blah in my opinion. Robbie Flak, while superbly likable, was not very realistic to me. The others characters sort followed that same path.
Does the novel give an answer to these time-worn questions? Of course not. Because as I said, the death penality is a moral issue,one comtemplated only in the realms of religion or faith, not politics, in my opinion. And that's the only opinion of mine worth mentioning here.
I can't wait to get to the book club discussion we will have on this book in February. Come join us, or if you're not near Elgin, please make a comment!