One of the purposes of a book club is to find and read books one might not normally read. I have read books I've both loved and not loved through book clubs and I'm always willing to try something new. Well, almost always (I still just say no to romance).
This month's book club pick was Skipping Christmas by John Grisham and I have to admit I was not excited about the selection. The premise of the book is that a couple, the Kranks, are sad that their only child won't be home for Christmas. They decide to skip the whole thing and go on a vacation instead. Their neighbors and friends take great offense and no one can understand why they would want to completely ignore the holiday. This escalates to anonymous, almost threatening, signs being left in the Kranks' front yard, anonymous cards being sent to them in the mail, and aggressive carolers camping out on their front step.
I feel terrible saying so, but I really disliked this book. Really, really. The Kranks have great reasons for wanting to skip the craziness of a holiday that is only bound to make them sad this year. They haven't sworn off all Christmases, just this one. After calculating how much money they've spent in past years on all the decorations, parties, food and presents, they choose to take a nice vacation just for themselves and I think that is perfectly fine. Why would it be okay for an entire neighborhood to harass a family for wanting to do something a little different? And Grisham doesn't side with the Kranks, he sides with the neighbors, turning Luther Krank into a modern day Scrooge. Grisham really crosses a line I can't abide when the Kranks' daughter changes her mind at the very last minute and decides to come home with her- wait for it- Peruvian fiancée! The parent's reaction:
"Don't Peruvians have dark skin?"
Later, when they've met him, they are relieved to discover:
He wasn't dark at all! At least two shades lighter than Luther himself!
BLECH! Racist much, Mr. Grisham?
I've never read any of Grisham's other books. They just aren't my genre, but now that I've read Skipping Christmas, I'll be sure to never read or even gift another one. This whole, tiny book felt like a weak attempt at rounding out his publishing numbers for the year. At only 177 small pages (the book only measures 5" x 8"), this is more of a glorified short story. It is fluff and not even enjoyable fluff at that. I'm not sure what the reader is supposed to feel after finishing this book. Don't ever even think about skipping Christmas, the most important day of the year, or your neighbors will all hate you? Being frugal and making your own choices is not allowed in December? Your jerky neighbors are all really just nice people who don't want you to miss the joy of the season? I really don't know.
This book is the basis for the Tim Allen movie "Christmas with the Kranks". I've never seen the movie because, frankly, it looked annoying to me. After reviewing the trailer, I can see that they've kept very close to the source material and it looks just as annoying as I remember it. If you liked that movie, you might enjoy this book. I didn't, but maybe that makes me a Krank.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and Happy New Year.
Whatever makes you happy, I hope it's a good one!