Skipping Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Did you guys hear about the cruise ship that broke down and was stranded in the ocean for a couple of weeks? Well, my family is supposed to be on that cruise ship right now. For a couple of years, my mom has been trying to organize us all together to go on a cruise for Christmas. However, just before Thanksgiving we got the unfortunate news that the ship would still be down and that our cruise was canceled. So I am here in the snows of Boise, Idaho, and in some ways I'm not disappointed. I get to go to three friends' weddings (two weddings, three friends - two of them are marrying each other). I get to spend some time vegging and reading after finals. Anyway, the point of that little personal reflection is to explain why I decided to read Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. I knew the story involved something about going on a cruise because their daughter was out of town, so I thought it would be a good little pity read.

Basically, the Kranks' only child, Blair, has joined the Peace Corps and will be in Peru for Christmas. Her parents, Nora and Luther, aren't really in the mood for celebrating, and when Luther, a tax accountant, adds up the amount they spent on Christmas the year before, he decides that they should forgo their commercialized traditions and spend the money on a cruise instead. However, the Kranks don't anticipate their neighbors' negative reactions to their decision to "skip" Christmas

To be perfectly upfront, I didn't care for this book at all. It's not that I don't like John Grisham. I've read a few of his books and really enjoyed one of them, The Rainmaker. I expected this book to be fluffy, but entertaining and enjoyable. But it was mainly just fluffy.

The plot was basically one negative reaction after another. The Kranks didn't put up their giant Frosty on their roof like all the neighbors, and the neighbors are mad. The Kranks didn't buy a Christmas tree from the Boy Scouts, and the Boy Scouts are sad. Etc. It was very predictable. I felt like I was trudging through a swamp of awkward episodes.

I also didn't really like the characters. Luther and Nora always seemed annoyed at each other, very "Krank"-y. (Teehee). Their relationship seemed negative and one-dimensional. There was only one moment in the story when I felt like they were happy together, and that moment still ended with annoyance and negativity. It bothered me that Luther flirted half-heartedly with women other than his wife, and that Nora did what Luther wanted even when she didn't want to.

So the characters weren't likable and the plot wasn't entertaining. I did like the little pinch of Christmas spirit thrown in at the end - it redeemed the plot a bit, I thought, and I didn't see it coming. But in general, not my favorite read. It wasn't outright awful or anything - it just wasn't very entertaining. Meh.

Accessibility/Readability - Easy to read.
Aesthetics/literary merit - 2. The writing itself was fine. Definitely not going down in history or anything.
Plot - 2. It gets a little lovin' because of the benevolent moment at the end.
Characters - 1.5. I just didn't like them.
Personal response: 1. I was bored the whole time reading this book, and it is pretty hard to bore me.
Overall: 1.5

PS: Read this for All About {n}'s holiday reading challenge.


  1. Is it mean if I say it sounds like a Ben Stiller flick?! Haha. Sorry to everyone that loves Ben Stiller and all his movies! Really, sad it wasn't enjoyable. Such is life in the literary realm. Happy Holidays! Enjoy some of that snow for us down south!

  2. Bummer! I've seen the film adaptation of this story and found it cute, if slightly over-the-top, and it sounds like it's one of those rare instances where the movie is actually better than the novel! Sorry this one wasn't much fun.

  3. @Beth - You're right, it totally does sound like a Ben Stiller movie. I think Ben Stiller could have possibly made it more entertaining. Haha. Happy Holidays to you too!

    @Meg - I can actually see how this one would maybe be a better movie than a book. Fortunately the book was very short.

    @kaye - I'm glad you liked it! I know some people really enjoyed this book, I was just not one of them.


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