by MICA WILHITE
When my grandmother, Amelia Josephine Crosariol Wilhite, wanted to alert someone that a neighbor had begun listening in on her party line near Little Italy, Ark., she would begin speaking Italian. I will never forget her telling me that after switching to Italian, she would hear that nosey neighbor ‘click’ and hang up the phone.
I lived the first ten years of my life in Perryville, Ark. where everybody’s phone number was 501-889-xxxx. At the local Friendly Food Mart, all the meat and produce was local. My parents bought their first house via FHA for monthly payment of $189 across the street from the local high school where they were both high school teachers. I went to college in Fayetteville, Ark. Woooooooooo, Pig! Sooie!
I love stories about Arkansas. So, even at the risk of reviewing a second Grisham novel this month, I must admit I only read it last fall at the recommendation my editor, Bob.
“A Painted House” was Grisham’s first book outside his famous legal thriller genre. Many Jeffersonians have probably already read it or watched the television movie in 2003. If not, I encourage you to read about the Chandler family and their unpainted house.
The main character is 7-year old Luke. His progressive mother grew up in a painted house but is a devoted mother and wife. After long days picking cotton in the Arkansas delta, the family often congregates on the front porch to listen to St. Louis Cardinal games on the radio.
There is plenty of drama in “A Painted House” believably, and often innocently, narrated by Luke. After a series of serious events, including murder, someone begins painting the Chandler house, the deep, rich symbolism of which cannot be overstated.
“A Painted House” (465 pages, 2001) is available at the Jefferson Carnegie Library. Call (903) 665-8911 or visit the new Jefferson Carnegie Library website (www.JeffersonCarnegieLibrary.org) for more information.
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