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Skipping Christmas Hardcover – October 29, 2002

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Editorial Reviews Review

John Grisham turns a satirical eye on the overblown ritual of the festive holiday season, and the result is Skipping Christmas, a modest but funny novel about the tyranny of December 25. Grisham's story revolves around a typical middle-aged American couple, Luther and Nora Krank. On the first Sunday after Thanksgiving they wave their daughter Blair off to Peru to work for the Peace Corps, and they suddenly realize that "for the first time in her young and sheltered life Blair would spend Christmas away from home."

Luther Krank sees his daughter's Christmas absence as an opportunity. He estimates that "a year earlier, the Luther Krank family had spent $6,100 on Christmas," and have "precious little to show for it." So he makes an executive decision, telling his wife, friends, and neighbors that "we won't do Christmas." Instead, Luther books a 10-day Caribbean cruise. But things start to turn nasty when horrified neighbors get wind of the Krank's subversive scheme and besiege the couple with questions about their decision.

Grisham builds up a funny but increasingly terrifying picture of how this tight-knit community turns on the Kranks, who find themselves under increasing pressure to conform. As the tension mounts, readers may wonder whether they will manage to board their plane on Christmas day. Skipping Christmas is Grisham-lite, with none of the serious action or drama of his legal thrillers, but a funny poke at the craziness of Christmas. --Jerry Brotton, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

For all its clever curmudgeonly edge and minor charms, no way does this Christmas yarn from Grisham rank with A Christmas Carol, as the publisher claims. Nor does it rank with Grisham's own best work. The premise is terrific, as you'd expect from Grisham. Fed up with the commercial aspects of Christmas, particularly all the money spent, and alone for the holiday for the first time in decades (their daughter has just joined the Peace Corps), grumpy Luther Krank and his sweeter wife, Nora, decide to skip Christmas this year to forgo the gifts, the tree, the decorations, the cards, the parties and to spend the dollars saved on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. But as clever as this setup is, its elaboration is ho-hum. There's a good reason why nearly all classic Christmas tales rely on an element of fantasy, for, literarily at least, Christmas is a time of miracles. Grisham sticks to the mundane, however, and his story lacks magic for that. He does a smartly entertaining job of satirizing the usual Christmas frenzy, as Luther and Nora resist entreaties from various charities as well as increasing pressure from their neighbors (all sharply drawn, recognizable members of the generic all-American burb, the book's setting) to do up their house in the traditional way, including installing the giant Frosty that this year adorns the roof of every home on the block except theirs. And when something happens that prompts the Kranks to jump back into Christmas at the last minute, Grisham does slip in a celebration of the real spirit of Christmas, to the point of perhaps squeezing a tear or two from his most sentimental readers (even if he comes uncomfortably close to It's a Wonderful Life to do so). But it's too little, too late. The misanthropy in this short novel makes a good antidote to the more cloying Christmas tales, and the book is fun to read. To compare it to Dickens, however, is...humbug. 1.5-million first printing.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385508417
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385508414
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #720,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Long before his name became synonymous with the modern legal thriller, John Grisham was working 60-70 hours a week at a small Southaven, Mississippi law practice, squeezing in time before going to the office and during courtroom recesses to work on his hobby--writing his first novel. Born on February 8, 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and a homemaker, John Grisham as a child dreamed of being a professional baseball player. Realizing he didn't have the right stuff for a pro career, he shifted gears and majored in accounting at Mississippi State University. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981, he went on to practice law for nearly a decade in Southaven, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. One day at the DeSoto County courthouse, Grisham overheard the harrowing testimony of a twelve-year-old rape victim and was inspired to start a novel exploring what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants. Getting up at 5 a.m. every day to get in several hours of writing time before heading off to work, Grisham spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000 copy printing and published it in June 1988.That might have put an end to Grishams hobby. However, he had already begun his next book, and it would quickly turn that hobby into a new full-time career. When he sold the film rights to The Firm to Paramount Pictures for $600,000, Grisham suddenly became a hot property among publishers, and book rights were bought by Doubleday. Spending 47 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, The Firm became the bestselling novel of 1991.The successes of The Pelican Brief, which hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list, and The Client, which debuted at number one, confirmed Grisham's reputation as the master of the legal thriller. Grisham's success even renewed interest in A Time to Kill, which was republished in hardcover by Doubleday and then in paperback by Dell. This time around, it was a bestseller. Since first publishing A Time to Kill in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year (his other books are The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, The Chamber, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, The Partner, The Street Lawyer, The Testament, The Brethren, A Painted House, Skipping Christmas, The Summons, The King of Torts, Bleachers, The Last Juror, The Broker, Playing for Pizza, and The Appeal) and all of them have become international bestsellers. There are currently over 225 million John Grisham books in print worldwide, which have been translated into 29 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films (The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, A Time to Kill, The Rainmaker, The Chamber, A Painted House, The Runaway Jury, and Skipping Christmas), as was an original screenplay, The Gingerbread Man.

Photo credit Maki Galimberti

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 107 people found the following review helpful By TheReader23 on November 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
OK, it's not your typical Grisham courtroom drama but, once again, he makes a plausible argument for "skipping Christmas" in his latest book of the same title. "Bah Humbug", I said, when first hearing about the book's premise until the plans surrounding the main characters' scheduled departure for the Caribbean sounded so enticing that it left me wondering if they might take me along.
While this book is not about doing away with Christmas forever, it's one couple's desire to just skip it, for just one year, and spend the money on a cruise instead. And, why not? Their only child Blair has just left for a stint in Peru with the Peace Corps and they are looking at spending their first Christmas alone in a very long time. But skipping Christmas entirely means not doing anything "holiday" related at all - no cards, no presents, no holiday parties and, most importantly, no rooftop Frosty...the "symbol" of Christmas in their Hemlock Street neighborhood in Illinois. But Luther and Nora KRANK are about to find out what the true "symbol" of Christmas really is -- whether they like it or not.
While their friends and neighbors are appalled at their decision to forego the Christmas festivities, Luther and Nora remain stalwart in their resolution of "no Christmas for the Kranks." Grisham throws some humor into many of the scenes as he has the Kranks hiding out in their own home as carolers sing Christmas songs on their lawn and then has them eating lettuce leaves in an effort to lose weight for the trip.
But it's the end of the book where the true meaning of Christmas will be exhibited. It's not money spent or gifts bought or Frosty's on the roof. It's much simpler and easier than that.
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109 of 120 people found the following review helpful By Jody Thomas on December 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover to be able to skip it.
Who hasn't said one time or another something to the effect of "next year, let's keep it simple...let's go away for Christmas without family and friends." John Grisham's "Skipping Christmas" is a fantastic, light-hearted story about how we all feel every Christmas...rushed and broke. This pleasant and quick-to-read tale is a MUST for anyone who needs to take some time out during the holidays for a little bit of "brain candy." I took this book with me on vacation with me last week and was able to read it within a day.
Grisham is a comedian, it's a nice breath of fresh air. Everyone should read it...because in the end there's a positive message ringing to the tune of "this is what Christmas is really all about."
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey S Schmidt on December 6, 2001
Format: Hardcover
We've all been fed up with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season at one time or another. This book shows that feeling this way isn't necesarily a bad feeling but it's not what the holidays are all about. The lead character is Luther Krank, a man totally mad that he is going through another boring, debt-filled Christmas. He thinks if he ignores the holiday completely and goes on a cruise instead that it will pass un-noticed. He learns through trials and tribulations that money and crowds and last minute shopping are not at all what Christmas is about. Rather, friendship and family makes our lives worthwhile!! A treasure of a book that i'd highly reccommend to all and I will probably find myself reading every year at this time!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A. KAPLAN on December 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For the legions of fans anxiously awaiting John Grisham's latest thriller, this will probably be pretty unsatisfying. Me, I'm not a big fan of his thrillers, and am glad to see him branching out more and writing the sorts of books I enjoy reading, with The Painted House, and now this. Plus, I'm a sucker for Christmas stories.
Like most Christmas stories, this isn't groundbreaking literature. It's as familiar and comfortable as watching a rerun of It's a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street while a yule log blazes away in a stocking-bedecked fireplace, and in the corner of the room you can see the lights twinkling on the Christmas tree. It's the story of Luther and Nora Krank, who, with their daughter having joined the Peace Corps, decide to avoid their usual Christmas hassles and expenses and take a cruise instead. Of course, this shocks their neighbors, who are completely bound up in annual Christmas traditions. Told in an easy, breezy style, this story feels like the novel-length version of something that would appear in the New Yorker, poking fun at the pointlessness of all the surface trappings of Christmas in a slightly condescending but good-natured way. There are few real surprises in this story, but that isn't the point. We aren't reading this book for the shocks or the plot twists. We're reading it to smile as Luthor finds himself under siege by neighborhood carolers.
While this story ultimately does nothing more than reinforce traditional Christmas values, Grisham gets points for not having someone stand up and state the obvious. Indeed, upon first finishing this story, I felt sort of irritated. I had the impression that Grisham had ended up endorsing the sorts of activities he had initially lampooned.
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