Book Review of Sooley by John Grisham – Entertaining Stuff
My Rating – 4 out of 5
Plot Summary – Sooley
In another move from his pet genre, Legal Thrillers, John Grisham moves to Basketball. he’s earlier written about Baseball but Basketball is a first. And to borrow a term from the game – it’s a slam-dunk! He’s intertwined it here with the story of enormous human tragedies in Africa – namely South Sudan, its Civil Wars and the displaced millions crawling across to their neighbors – Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and others. His in-depth research into African politics and into Basketball shine through and makes it a top drawer read! Like much of war-ravaged Africa, South Sudan after achieving freedom in 2011, immediately descended into total chaos and anarchy.
The Civil Wars of Africa, mostly have a common thread. Oil, the vast billions it fetches, the corrupt rulers amassing the gains for themselves and allowing their countrymen to starve and die. Tribal rivalries often precipitate the first budding of a Civil War and then it churns into a never ending cycle. Born into this hurricane of violence and human atrocities, Samuel Sooleymon is a precocious 17 year old, who loves Basketball like no other. NBA Talent Spotter Ecko Lam, scouting countries and counties for their best prospects, brings Samuel to America, to study and play College Ball. He has the most amazing spot jump Lam had ever seen.
The rough diamond of Africa, goes through the grind for the next 9-10 months, practicing relentlessly, even though he gets no game time. This is North Carolina Central and they have an average team, nothing like any of their competitors. But Sooley, as he’s fondly known, has only one focus. His family, back in Africa, have become refugees and are living in tents and he is determined to become an US citizen and get them all immigrated to America. It is an epic tale of the underdog and the towering stories of their miraculous success against much vaunted opponents.
It would be remiss on my part to not mention the unbelievable role played by Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders. Mostly European Doctors, leaving their safe, comfortable lives behind, travel to War ravaged parts of Africa, Asia etc. battling not just human cruelties, but also lack of food, water, basic medicines etc. – in other words things that we have taken for granted. Their selfless service is beyond words and in most cases are the only saving graces that humanity as a whole can count upon. Connect to this Novel? They work in the Ugandan refugee camp which houses Sooley’s bruised and battered family.
Conclusion – Book Review of Sooley
The detailed exploits of Samuel Sooleymon in US, in the College Basketball circuit are very believable and heartwarming. His struggles to get his family Stateside, seems unending, and his unwavering focus on the game of basketball is almost zombie-like! The games are described in vivid detail, the pulsating feel of a nerve wracking match seems like it’s happening around you. The emergence of a Superstar is almost predestined and John Grisham shows what a master he is, of the pure art of storytelling!!
Reading this book is also an indication that (probably), a legal thriller is in the works for later this year, and a fan like me can hardly wait. For fans, this is a must-read and chalks up another feather in Mr. Grisham’s already highly feathered cap. As he says many times in the book – Nothing but Net….
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