Memo to Hollywood's leading men: Just because it's a Grisham book doesn't mean there's a part for you. The hero is a seven-year-old boy learning life lessons from his Pappy during a 1952 cotton harvest. This semiautobiographical tale has some class struggle and a pinch of sex, but here the author known for his movie-ready legal thrillers takes time to chill. Too much time, in fact, at 388 pages. But his compassion for his characters is infectious, and the book is finally rewarding--a Sunday sermon from a Friday-night storyteller.
--By Jess Cagle