Book Review: The Green Mile
Author: Stephen King Published: 1996 Publisher: Penguin Signet Number of Pages: 592 My Rating: 5
Summary from GoodReads.com:
At Cold Mountain Penitentiary, along the lonely stretch of cells known as the Green Mile, killers are depraved as the psychopathic “Billy the Kid” Wharton and the possessed Eduard Delacroix await death strapped in “Old Sparky.” Here guards as decent as Paul Edgecombe and as sadistic as Percy Wetmore watch over them. But good or evil, innocent or guilty, none have ever seen the brutal likes of the new prisoner, John Coffey, sentenced to death for raping and murdering two young girls. Is Coffey a devil in human form? Or is he a far, far different kind of being?
What better way to start the New Year than with a review of one of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. Believe me, as an avid book reader and book lover I don’t take saying that word lightly- *gasp!*- a favorite?! But this one had me crying, laughing, cringing, and seriously contemplating, all within a mere 592 pages (I didn’t say it was short).
Anyone who has ever read Stephen King can attest to the fact that he is a genius, sometimes dark and twisted, but a writing genius nonetheless. I have read other works by King that have left me wanting more and thinking about them for weeks afterwards, but The Green Mile will be a book I know I will never be able to forget.
The Green Mile is essentially about death row inmates and guards in a small town prison in the 1930s. The narrator, Paul Edgecomb, was the main guard in this section of the prison and is looking back at his time there, namely his memories about some certain inmates that have stayed with him throughout his entire life. I say essentially, however, because it is about so much more than this. Yes, Paul reflects about the brave men he worked with as well as men on the block, Delacroix, “Billy the Kid” Wharton, and John Coffey, along with a mouse named Mr. Jingles, but he also broaches some tough subjects- life, death, right, wrong. Are the “good” guys always good? Are the “bad” guys always bad?
The guards working on the Green Mile are forced to take care of these men in their final days of life, trying to remember the crimes they committed but also seeing them as human beings. Is it wrong to feel sympathy for a hardened criminal? Is it unjust to have pity during the final terrified prayer of scared convict? Is it wrong to be emotional as you witness the final dying breaths of a murderer as he is electrocuted?
These are all thoughts that cross Paul’s mind as he weaves his way through time, sharing his ghosts and skeletons with us. While this story doesn’t sound the most uplifting, it isn’t overwhelmingly depressing by any means. The inmates are shed in a rare light and are portrayed as what they are- men who are living out the punishment for their crimes. The story of John Coffey, however, will leave you mystified and questioning some of those answers you may have given above.
Stephen King gave us a tale so unique and beautiful in all of its ugliness, that you will be happy you were brave enough to pick it up and see what the men on the Green Mile had in store. Their stories will haunt you, but they won’t keep you up at night in typical King fashion. This book will be here forever, and John Coffey and Paul Edgecomb will be there right along with it. What’s your first review of 2015? Share your link with me in the comments below! Here’s to a fabulous New Year of reading and reviewing! -Busy Brunette