Author ~ Stephen King
Pages ~ 538 (paperback)
Memorable Quotes: “Time takes it all, whether you want it to or not.”
“I’m rightly tired of the pain I hear and feel, boss. I’m tired of bein on the road, lonely as a robin in the rain. Not never havin no buddy to go on with or tell me where we’s comin from or goin to or why. I’m tired of people bein ugly to each other. It feels like pieces of glass in my head. I’m tired of all the times I’ve wanted to help and couldn’t. I’m tired of bein in the dark. Mostly it’s the pain. There’s too much. If I could end it, I would. But I can’t.”
Favorite Character: John Coffey, of course!!
Summary: Set in the 1930s at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s death-row facility, The Green Mile is the riveting and tragic story of John Coffey, a giant, preternaturally gentle inmate condemned to death for the rape and murder of twin nine-year-old girls. It is a story narrated years later by Paul Edgecomb, the ward superintendent compelled to help every prisoner spend his last days peacefully and every man walk the green mile to execution with his humanity intact.
Edgecomb has sent seventy-eight inmates to their death with “old sparky,” but he’s never encountered one like Coffey — a man who wants to die, yet has the power to heal. And in this place of ultimate retribution, Edgecomb discovers the terrible truth about Coffey’s gift, a truth that challenges his most cherished beliefs — and ours.
(Thanks to Goodreads!)
I Rate It: 5/5 Stars ~*~ My bookshelf would be empty without it!
(I actually bought this book and re-read about half of it on the way home on a road trip! 🙂 )
Unlike what you might think when immediately hearing the name Stephen King, this novel wasn’t scary, at least not in a traditional sort of way. Disturbing? Slightly, but not frightening.
This novel is set in 1932 and told from a first-person point of view of the forty-ish year old man Paul Edgecombe, an officer in charge of the inmates on death row in the Cold Mountain Penitentiary.
Lovely occupation. Or, at least, never a boring one.
It’s called “the green mile” because of the green tile on the floor of “death row”; it goes down the row of cells (there’s six of ’em, I think) and to a desk. Go through a few more doors and you’ll get to the one with Old Sparky inside.
Old Sparky, by the way, is their affectionate name for the electric chair.
Paul works with a few other men, one of whom is a nasty kid named Percy. I hate his guts. The book is written so that you hate Percy more than you do murderers. Awkward….
One day, the lovely fellow walks in shouting “Dead man walking!”–a term that no one with a real officer’s job would ever say, it must just be something he’s read in the dumb things he’s always carrying around with him.
Enter: John Coffey.
A giant of an African American man–at over six feet tall. He looks capable of doing anything, hurting anyone that he could want to, or at least you would think that from his size.
What’s he been convicted of? The rape and murder of twin girls. He was found holding their bloody, naked bodies; crying his heart out.
He said, “I tried to take it back, but it was too late.”
(Remember that line. It’s important.)
I didn’t mention this earlier, but Paul’s got…well, a urinary infection. In fact, he doesn’t shut up about it–even when it’s gone, he still brings it up.
One day, this inmate is saying that he desperately needs to talk to Paul. In the time that John has been at Cold Mountain, he’s been nothing but cooperative. He’s kind, as strange as that seems; not very smart, but given the time-period that’s not a surprise. He knows how his name is spelled, but that’s about it. (His last name, he says, is like the drink, but not spelled the same.)
He’s usually crying. And he asked for there to be lights on at night; he’s afraid of the dark.
Paul, naturally, is hesitant when John insists he be closer than he should be with an inmate; going into the cell, at least when no one else is present to help if something goes wrong, isn’t wise. But he went against his better judgement and went to see what John needed, anyway.
John simply touched Paul…and his infection was gone. John started to cough–more like choke– and just when Paul thought something awful was happening, what looked like black bugs flew out of John’s mouth, turned white, and vanished.
It didn’t make sense, obviously, but there had been positive results–very unexpected and startling ones.
John only said “I helped it,” and proceeded to lie down on his bed and face the wall.
Why would he want to help? He’d raped and murdered two little girls children, hadn’t he?
There’s a mouse in this story, one that comes up…very often. His name, or the name that the inmate Delacroix gave to him, is Mr. Jingles. He can do tricks; he fetches a spool and sleeps in a cigar box in Delacroix’s cell. Delacroix loved that mouse more than life itself, it seemed.
Remember Percy? Well, he decided that it would be fun to stomp on that mouse.
Guess who “helped it” then?
John helps other things, too, but I don’t want to give it all away.
I couldn’t put this book down. I can’t think of anything more you can ask from a novel; it made me laugh (more than once), it grossed me out (just a bit), and it made me cry.
The movie adaptation is really great, too! It stays quite close to the movie, and the casting is fantastic! 🙂