“Gray Mountain”, is the latest offering by John Grisham, and number one on the New York Times bestsellers list, at the time of this writing. As almost all of his other novels, this is a story of injustice, and a legal system that’s unable to rectify it. The main character, Samantha, a young lawyer, is furloughed by her Wall Street law firm in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008. She reluctantly takes an unpaid internship at a legal clinic in rural Appalachia. Here, instead of 80 hours a week of reading and writing contracts, she is providing free legal assistance to poor people who are victims of the coal industry and seeing how her efforts can impact individual lives for the better . Reluctantly, she takes a central role in fighting the coal companies’ illegal practices in strip mining and disregard for worker safety. There is transformation of the main character and the broad view of how the legal system is manipulated by corporations to allow them to pursue their destruction of the environment and communities in the coal mining areas of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. John Grisham’s background as a lawyer allows him to write legal stories with authenticity and accuracy in regards to the process of law.
I found the book exciting and greatly entertaining. It was a quick and easy read and illuminating in the area of strip mining and its costs to the environment and people in Appalachia. John Grisham has, once again, created a more just world in his story than the real world legal system can render. In the back of the book he lists some of the real world champions of this struggle.