Leapholes

( 3 )

Overview

Ryan Coolidge hates middle school and is in the worst kind of trouble-trouble with the law. The one person who can help Ryan is a mysterious old lawyer named Hezekiah. Hezekiah may have magical powers, or he may have the most elaborate computerized law library ever conceived. Either way, together, Ryan and Hezekiah do their legal research by zooming through leapholes, physically entering the law books, and coming face-to-face with actual people from some of our nation's most famous cases-like Rosa Parks and Dred ...

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Leapholes

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Overview

Ryan Coolidge hates middle school and is in the worst kind of trouble-trouble with the law. The one person who can help Ryan is a mysterious old lawyer named Hezekiah. Hezekiah may have magical powers, or he may have the most elaborate computerized law library ever conceived. Either way, together, Ryan and Hezekiah do their legal research by zooming through leapholes, physically entering the law books, and coming face-to-face with actual people from some of our nation's most famous cases-like Rosa Parks and Dred Scott-who will help Ryan defend himself in court. It is time travel with a legal twist, where law books and important legal precedents come to life.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Steven Kral
Ryan is a middle school student whose father is in prison. Despite his father's protestations of innocence, Ryan does not believe him. An unbelievable chain of events finds him hospitalized and charged with manslaughter. His lawyer, Hezekiah, introduces Ryan to "leapholes," which Hezekiah explains as virtual computer simulations of events behind case law but which might be much more. When Hezekiah is trapped in a leaphole, Ryan agrees to try to save him. Along the way, Ryan gains a greater understanding of how law is created, the people behind the laws, and comes to terms with his father's incarceration. Grippando tries to educate middle school readers about various legal concepts. For the most part, he succeeds. He is able to sneak in such topics as precedent, evidence, and legal ethics in an entertaining story. The characters are engaging, if a tad unrealistic, and the story moves along fairly well. The lessons are told in a very non-didactic manner. The novel ends on a slight cliffhanger, leaving an opening for an eventual sequel. The book is hampered, however, by an appendix that presents first-person essays by prominent lawyers of what made them decide to become lawyers. Although they are interesting to the adult reader, teens will likely roll their eyes at the "that's why I became a lawyer and why you should too" tone that runs through them.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Racing away from home on his bike to avoid being dragged to another embarrassing visit with his imprisoned father, a South Florida middle schooler is hit by a car and swept into this time-travel thriller. Ryan faces a number of narrow escapes and gradually comes to accept that he has been recruited by Hezekiah, an elderly African-American "Legal Eagle," to succeed him. Hezekiah uses "leapholes" in conjunction with law books to travel back in time to meet the people behind the cases that have established precedent, good or bad, and that determine our current legal environment. What's not to like about a book that says, "Nowhere is the imagination less constrained than in a library" and that incorporates lawyer jokes? Unfortunately, weak characterization and circumstantial plot make this novel less appealing for sophisticated teen readers. A portion of the story involves Dred Scott v. Sandford, and the author has to explain abolition and the Underground Railroad to a clueless Ryan, even though he has studied the Civil War. Extensive end matter includes responses from 19 famous lawyers about why they entered the profession. Fans of Horowitz might bite on this, but not of Grisham.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590316665
  • Publisher: American Bar Association
  • Publication date: 9/25/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 535,072
  • Age range: 13 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.37 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

James Grippando
James Grippando
As the old cliché goes, “write what you know.” Former lawyer James Grippando has certainly taken this bit of wisdom to heart with his mega-successful courtroom thrillers, many of them starring Miami defense attorney Jack Swyteck. Time and again, this bestselling author has proven that he not only knows the law but he knows how to conjure an expertly paced tale of suspense.

Biography

Whether standing before the bench in a courtroom or penning one of his bestselling thrillers featuring defense attorney Jack Swyteck, James Grippando has a deep fascination with the law. He practiced as a trial lawyer for twelve years before shifting his career in a more literary direction. However, the decision was not the result of bitter disillusionment. "I actually liked practicing law," he explains on his web site. "I just wished I could do less of it. That may sound like a contradiction, but the problem with being a lawyer is that, if you get caught up in it, eventually you won't know anything about anything except what you happen to be working on at the moment."

As he contemplated leaving the law, Grippando set his sights on becoming a writer, a career shift not as drastic as one might imagine. "A trial lawyer is in many ways a story teller," he said in an essay in Mystery Scene magazine. "Still, I had no idea how to become a novelist... So, I set a couple of ground rules. First, I would do my writing on the sly, nights and weekends, while continuing to bill my obligatory two thousand hours a year. Second -- and this was by far the most important rule -- I was determined to keep it fun."

Both Grippando's legal expertise and his determination to "keep it fun" were readily apparent in his 1994 debut, The Pardon, a taut thriller that introduced Jack Swyteck, a brash young Miami criminal defense attorney who successfully defends an admitted killer -- only to find himself framed for his defendant's murder. Called "a bona fide blockbuster" by the Boston Herald, this well-plotted first novel marked Grippando as a writer to watch.

Despite the popularity of The Pardon, Grippando would not return Jack Swyteck to active duty for eight more years. His second novel, written while he was still practicing law, was a fast-paced crime thriller called The Informant. Shortly after it was published in 1996, he left his practice for full-time writing and published a string of well received stand-alones, including The Abduction, Under Cover of Darkness, and A King's Ransom.

Then, in 2002, Grippando revived Jack Swyteck, placing him at the center of Beyond Suspicion, a gripping courtroom drama involving an insurance scam and the Russian Mafia. Readers reacted so joyfully to Swyteck's return that the author has -- with very few exceptions -- kept attention focused on his beloved series protagonist. As the review journal Booklist put it : "Grippando, whose best thriller have been full of imagination and out-of-left-field surprises, looks like he's found a winner in the Swyteck series."

Good To Know

When he was a lawyer, one of Grippando's most prominent cases found him defending a group of chicken farmers against, according to his essay in Mystery Scene magazine, "the largest privately-held corporation in the world." The Wall Street Journal deemed the case "the catalyst for change in the $15 billion a year poultry industry."

Before becoming a writer, Grippando was on the fast track to becoming a partner at Steel Hector & Davis, the Miami law firm at which former Attorney General Janet Reno began her career.

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Grippando:

"In this world of revolving doors, I'm what you might call a professional anomaly. I've had the same publisher (HarperCollins) and agent (Richard Pine, along with his father Artie until his death) since the start of my career. I've also had the same editor (Carolyn Marino) since my second novel. I treasure these relationships. It is because of them that I am able to do what I love for a living."

"My first published novel was actually inspired by a near arrest in a case of total mistaken identity. One night in October 1992, tired of staring at a blank computer screen, I went for a walk before going to bed. I got about three blocks from my house when, seemingly out of nowhere, a police car pulled up onto the grassy part of the curb in front of me. A cop jumped out and demanded to know where I was going. I told him that I was just out for a walk, that I lived in the neighborhood. He didn't seem to believe me. "There's been a report of a peeping Tom," he said. "I need to check this out." I stood helplessly beside the squad car and listened as the officer called in on his radio for a description of the prowler."Under six feet tall," I heard the dispatcher say, "early to mid-thirties, brown hair, brown eyes, wearing blue shorts and a white t shirt." I panicked inside. I was completely innocent, but it was exactly me! "And a mustache," the dispatcher finally added. I sighed with relief. I had no mustache. The cop let me go.

But as I walked home, I could only think of how close I'd come to disaster. Even though I was innocent, my arrest would have been a media event, and forever I would have been labeled as "the peeping Tom lawyer." It was almost 2 a.m. by the time I returned home, but I decided that I needed to write about this. I took the feeling of being wrongly accused to the most dramatic extreme I could think of. I wrote about a man hours away from execution for a crime he may not have committed. What I wrote that night became the opening scene of The Pardon."

"My first editor on everything I write is my wife, Tiffany, who was an English Lit major."

"I can't underestimate the impact Miami -- the city in which I live -- has had on my writing. Miami evokes all the right buzz words -- smart and sexy, young and beautiful -- but it also has a self-destructive quality that triggers the kind of fascination we have with a reckless youth. It is blessed with natural beauty, but it's threatened by developers. It has the gift of cultural diversity, but is plagued by ethnic tension. Its nightlife is unrivaled, but the threat of violence is never far enough away. There's glitz, there's money, there's the see-and-be-seen -- and then there are neighborhoods that seem straight out of the third world. You often hear it said that truth is stranger than fiction, and nowhere is that more true than in south Florida. Where else could the United States Attorney lose his job after losing a big case, getting drunk, and biting a stripper? But it's where I live, it's where I practiced law, and it will always be an inspiration to my writing.

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    1. Hometown:
      Coral Gables, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 27, 1958
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waukegan, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A. with High Honors, University of Florida, 1980; J.D. with Honors, University of Florida, 1982
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2007

    Leapholes

    I thought the book was amazing, especially the ending where some people got what they deserved. (sometimes different than real life)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2007

    Leapholes

    The end was amazing because some people got what they deserved (sometimes different than real life).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2007

    Suspenseful

    Leapholes is a great book. You never know what is going to happen next. Even though the book is fictional, you still stop and if this could happen in real life.

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