A Single Sentence That Makes You Gasp


Gray Mountain by John Grisham Book ReviewThe other day my mom stopped by on the way to the library. She had Gray Mountain by John Grisham under her arm. We got to talking about the book and the 25/25 challenge and she ended up leaving the book for me to read. :)  ** I am enjoying so much how books are just showing up for me to read these days! It’s absolute magic. 

I haven’t read many of Grisham’s books, I’m not a huge fan of big lawyery books… but my mom said she really enjoyed it and she thought I’d like it. That’s enough for me. ;)

I always love reading the first paragraph of a book. Usually after I read it I stop for a couple minutes, and really think about it. The first paragraph is your readers intro to the book, to you as a writer, to your characters, and the story. I love to see how people design their first paragraphs. I love to see how the paragraph makes me feel, what it makes me want to do. This was a good one.

This book was an easy read, it was easy to “fall into” the story. Which is my favorite part of reading. I love being able to open the pages and fall in, to become a fly on the wall in the story. I love to get so lost in the book that I forget I’m snuggled up in a blanket on my couch. When I don’t find it easy to do this… I don’t end up enjoying the book all that much. This book was easy to fall into. The characters were real, well developed, and interesting. I wanted to know what was going to happen to them, how things were going to go, how it was going to end. I was invested. I think as a writer it’s the most important thing… to get your reader invested.

I was so invested, at one point, a turn of events literally made me gasp out loud, which of course led to some mocking from my husband. It was not only the turn of events that had me gasping out loud, but the way it was written. One sentence, clear, clean, precise, packed with emotion and power. It was an amazing thing. I reread the sentence at least 10 times just because I wanted to imprint it on my mind so I’d remember later in my own writing this one amazing sentence.

Funny thing… it happened again, later in the book.

I really started thinking, as a writer, how can I incorporate these amazing zinger sentences in my writing? How can I turn things on a dime with one sentence? How can I use 6 to 10 small words to change everything? It’s a fun and interesting question to think about!

You know, I’d forgotten how much fun it is to read, to get lost in a story, to lose yourself for a little while. For the last couple of years I’ve read, but it was always with a purpose: learn, grow, implement, teach. As much as I love that kind of reading, I hadn’t allowed myself the time to just read. Gray Mountain is one of those books that sucks you in, keeps you reading, allows you to fall into the book, and it was a perfect re-introduction to the fun of reading.

It’s set in the mountains of Appalachia, coal country. A big city lawyer loses her big city job, her company furloughs her and says she can intern for a year, and then maybe they’ll have a job for her to come back to. She finds a position at a small free clinic. She immediately realizes this is not the kind of lawyering she’s used to doing. There are real people with real problems, most of which revolve around coal.  She becomes involved with not only the lawyers at her firm, but their family, and others in town, some of whom are lawyers as well and not quite as ethical as she. Bending the rules to level the playing field with big coal leads to big settlements, but also big trouble.

I highly recommend Gray Mountain. Give yourself some down time, let yourself be transported to the mountains of Appalachia, get so wrapped up in the story you forget your own for a few pages. It feels really good.


Jackie Lee Zen Wahm

fiction reading challenge

This post is part of the 25/25 Reading challenge I’ve set for myself this year. 25 works of fiction, and 25 memoirs read during the year 2015. I’m having a blast, and enjoying so many new books. You’re welcome to come along for the ride… Challenge reviews will be published on Mondays, I’ll be sending an email to let you know when they’re live, so make sure you sign up or you’ll miss them! If you want to see what I’ve read so far… click here

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