A Theodore Boone Novel by John Grisham
Review: Thirteen-year-old Theodore "Teddy" Boone is getting ready to graduate 8th grade and move into high school. But first he has to endure a series of standardized tests to determine into which level he'll be placed. He's hoping for honors. But when the results come back, he's disappointed to learn he missed the cutoff by one point. As did his friend April Finnemore. But then April tells him that a group of teachers at one of the district schools corrected their student's answers, boosting their school's overall achievement, something they were pressured to do by the district management, in The Scandal, the sixth book in this young adult series by John Grisham.
.Teddy is torn about what to do with this information. April is not. She immediately sends off a letter to the superintendent of schools identifying at least two of the teachers involved in changing answers, but knows that there were more. She doesn't sign it, but feels better for having done something. As opposed to Teddy, who was still struggling with whether or not he should tell his parents, both of whom practiced law. But his decision was soon made moot; a couple of days later the information was made public; a front page article in the local newspaper reported on questions that had come up over testing at one of the middle schools. The school board interviewed the teachers accused of cheating, they all admitted it, and awaited to hear what their punishment might be. They assumed they would be fired, but when the board suggests they made be arrested, they get nervous. Teddy's parents agree to represent them at their preliminary hearing, where a judge will made a decision as to whether criminal charges are justified.
For a series about a "teen lawyer", Teddy Boone actually does no lawyering here. Indeed, he's more of a bystander watching the action around him than anything else. The first half of the book or so covers the period of the testing, introduces the characters (including the recurring cast) by setting them up in various situations peripheral to the primary plotline while setting the stage of what's to come. A good chunk of the remainder covers the accusation and consequences with a short final scene taking place in the courthouse. The story is topical and written at an appropriate level for its intended audience, but one can't help but wonder why Teddy doesn't have more to do. He doesn't have to give legal advice or practice law (to the extent that a 13-year-old ever could), but even a little undercover investigation or fact-finding would have been welcome. The Scandal isn't necessarily a bad entry in this series, but it could have been a much better one with a little more substance to the story, and it seems unlikely that first time readers would be sufficiently enthused to pick up any of the earlier books.
Acknowledgment: Penguin Group provided a copy of The Scandal for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The Scandal:
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The Scandal by John Grisham — A Theodore Boone Novel
Publication Date: May 2016
List Price: $17.99
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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