Any pen pal who has received a letter from me will know that I always list Stephen King as one of my favorite authors. Truth be told, he is my MOST favorite author ever. His imagination scares me and his writing inspires me and I can’t get enough of his work. And I’m pretty sure you guys know him too. Carrie, Pet Sematary, It, Misery, The Dark Tower series, come on guys. Or how about creepy twin girls and a mad man with an axe yelling “Here’s Johnny!”? That’s right, he’s the twisted author who wrote The Shining (excellent movie too, by the way).
I have quite a few of his books gracing my shelves and have not yet read a piece I didn’t enjoy. I probably won’t read all of them again, as I still need to work through his other books and my to-read list is insanely long already (my Goodreads friends will know).
But I feel completely different after reading The Green Mile.
It’s safe to say that my favorite book is no longer Needful Things (also by Mr. King) or The Watchers (by Dean Koontz). The Green Mile has crawled into my heart, stabbed it a few times and now refuses to leave.
The Green Mile was first released as a serial novel in 1996, and consisted of six volumes before it was later released as one volume in 1997. One of the reasons the idea of a serial novel appealed to him, was that the reader could not skip ahead to different parts of the book to see how things played out. At the age of twelve he was appalled by his mother who peeked at the end of an Agatha Christie paperback, even though she was still at the beginning of her book. According to King, suspense tales and spooky stories should be appreciated by not skipping ahead.
The Green Mile: those who walk it do not return, because at the end of that walk is the room in which sits Cold Mountain Penitentiary’s electric chair. In 1932 the newest resident on death row is John Coffey, a giant of a black man convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls. But nothing is as it seems with John Coffey, and around him unfolds a bizarre and horrifying story.
Evil murderer or holy innocent – whichever he is – Coffey has strange powers which may yet offer salvation to others, even if they can do nothing to save him.
Paul Egdecombe tells the tale of his time as the block supervisor of Cold Mountain Penitentiary death row, which has been nicknamed “The Green Mile”. Paul and his team of guards have the main purpose of leading the prisoners to Old Sparky, the electric chair that seals their fate as death row inmates. During his time as block supervisor, he encounters arsonist, rapist and murderer Eduard “Del” Delacroix (who adopts Mr. Jingles, the cutest mouse ever), William Wharton, the dangerous murderer and troublemaker, and Percy Wetmore, a sadistic guard who enjoys antagonizing the inmates as often as he can. But the one person who stood out the most for Paul was John Coffey, a large, grieving black man who was convicted of raping and murdering two small girls. But Paul Edgecombe quickly realizes that John Coffey is not as he may seem; he might have been a victim of circumstance, and he is harboring a gift that cannot be comprehended.
From the very first sentence I was hooked and struggled to put the book down to step back into reality (a geek girl has chores to do!). As Paul Edgecombe narrates the story of John Coffey, you find yourself walking on the green linoleum floor between the cells along with him. This book is written exceptionally well, and with so much emotion that it broke me.
I smiled and laughed at the antics of the unusually intelligent Mr. Jingles, felt adoration towards Paul and his team (and even Del), and harbored an annoyed hatred towards Percy Wetmore and William Wharton. But most of all, I felt a saddened love towards John Coffey (“like the drink, only not spelled the same”).
I was very teary in the beginning, nauseated and angry in the middle and had full blown water works for the last 38 pages of this book. I really enjoyed this tale that showed that not everything is black and white, and “evil” isn’t always evil. I will read this book again and again, and I’m going to finally watch the movie, too!
The Green Mile broke my heart and I still love it.
“We each owe a death, there are no exceptions, I know that, but sometimes, oh God, the Green Mile is so long.”
So many feels!