Skipping Christmas

skipping-christmas

Title

  • Skipping Christmas / John Grisham.

Authors

Publication Info

  • New York : Random House Audio, c2001.

ISBN

  • 0553712837; $14.99

Length

  • 4 sound discs (4 hr.)

Formats

  • Hardcover
  • Paperback
  • Compact Disc
  • Large Print
  • eBook
  • eAudiobook

Genre

  • General fiction
  • Humor
  • Christmas

Rating

4Q; 5P

Reader’s Annotation

Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip Christmas and take a cruise.

Summary

When their only child takes off for two years in Peru with the Peace Corps, Luther and Nora Krank decide to skip all of the commercialism and bustle of Christmas and spend the money on a Caribbean cruise instead. Not a dime will be spent on decorations, cards, parties, presents, or even the usual Christmas charities. Luther, a bit of a Scrooge at heart, is excited about the plans, but Nora takes some convincing. When their friends and neighbors find out their plans, the pressure to conform begins to mount. Luther stands firm, but Nora is about to crack. How long can they stand up to the wisecracks, sideways looks, and cries of “Free Frosty!”?

Evaluation

Many Christmas novels are gently paced with mild plots and at least a slightly magical element. Not this one. It has a cranky tone, and its frenetic pace mirrors the way many adults feel about this busy holiday and its expectations. It is darkly humorous with the all-out war between the Kranks and neighbors who demand they conform, with Frosty as the symbolic spoils of battle.

The characters are somewhat caricatures, with Luther as the Scrooge, Nora his sweet but harried wife, and Vic Frohmeyer as the political boss of Hemlock Street, but they are fitting to the story. There are many recognizable suburban “types,” but by the end of the novel we can see the strengths as well as the weaknesses of this culture. In the end, Luther may not be “redeemed,” but he does find a little Christmas spirit.

The audiobook version was just average. The sound quality was only fair; the volume had to be turned up quite a bit for a comfortable listening level. The narrator was competent but did not attempt different voices or accents and was not particularly expressive.

This book is a great antidote to the sometimes sticky sweet nature of holiday entertainment. For laugh-out-loud humor and full-on satire, try Skipping Christmas.

Author

Visit the author’s website.

An interview with The Guardian

A video interview with the senior books editor for Amazon about Grisham’s novels A Time to Kill and Sycamore Row.

Reviews

Goodreads

Publishers Weekly

BookPage

Appeal Factors

This book will appeal to readers looking for a humorous holiday read, something fun and fast-paced with which to celebrate the season. This holiday read can even appeal to the readers with a little bit of Scrooge in their own hearts who enjoy satire.

Readalikes

The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore. These novels share the subject Christmas and are darkly humorous. In The Stupidest Angel, the humor is provided by an angel who messes up his assignment to grant a boy’s wish and causes mayhem in the community.

When Elves Attack, by Tim Dorsey. Both novels share the genre of humor and the subject of Christmas. The humor is dark in both, with Dorsey perhaps a little darker. Dorsey’s book features criminal characters and is set in Florida.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. These novels share the subject Christmas and feature characters who are, well, Scrooges. Dickens provided the original holiday crank on whom other characters like Luther Krank are based.

Booktalk Ideas

A booktalk could focus on Luther Krank coming up with the idea to skip Christmas, starting with going to the store and stepping in the puddle, ruminating on the expenses and excesses of the holiday, and thinking about a Caribbean vacation.

Discussion Questions

This book is somewhat satirical. What social commentary is Grisham making with this story?

Why did Luther refuse to even put up Frosty or give to charity? Could he have taken a middle road?

Do you think Americans’ holiday celebrations have gotten out of hand, or do you enjoy all the traditions we have come to think of as part of the holiday?

Would you ever skip Christmas to pursue another goal? If so, for what cause?

Why I chose this book

I saw the movie first and wanted to read the book. Also, the book was chosen as a Book to Movie Book Club choice for this December.

Other Information

This book was made into a movie called Christmas with the Kranks. The book and movie are very similar.

Memory Hooks

Krank, Scrooge, Frosty, Hickory Honey Ham (although this was featured in the movie, not the book)

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