Why I Won’t Be Buying Books By John Grisham

I love a good suspense book. Maybe because most of my life was so full of terror and pain; I can relate to the threats, and I love it when a good person wins out, and people who hurt others get justice. But I won’t ever buy a John Grisham book.

Why? Because John Grisham said that people who watch and download child porn should not be jailed and that “current sentencing policies failed to draw a distinction between real-world abusers and those who downloaded content, accidentally or otherwise.”


Wow. Excuse me while I take some deep breaths.

People who watch and download child porn are what drive the child-porn industry. Watching child porn is still exploitation. A child was abused and dehumanized to make that child porn that someone is sitting in their cozy house watching, getting off on. And suggesting that some men might download child porn by “mistake” or while drunk is excusing the behavior. It doesn’t recognize the culture we live in that encourages rape and child exploitation. It’s not thinking about the children that were used to create the child porn, the pain and trauma they endured. It’s severely lacking in compassion for victims, for anyone who isn’t an adult white male (John’s friend who he was identifying with) and that worries me.

Have I mentioned that my parents made child porn using me and other children, to make money to help fund the cult they belong to? I was regularly raped, forced to engage in sexual acts, and dehumanized in some very humiliating, degrading, sickening scenarios, all while being filmed, for men (and women) who would pay for the videos or photos.

It left emotional scars, along with the other abuse and torture I endured, that stay with me today. While I have finally learned to be pretty okay with a camera (especially cell phone cameras that don’t look like traditional cameras), for years I couldn’t bear being photographed or filmed. I still get triggered into traumatic memories every time I have to do a TV interview or too many people ask to take my photo in a short period of time. And the child porn messed up my body image, my comfort with my own sexuality, and left me fearful, mistrusting, and hating my own body and sexuality. It also, along with all the other abuse, left me with many psychological effects, including severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, dissociation, self-harm, wanting to die, and other effects.

The effects of child porn, abuse, rape, trauma, and exploitation is what I try to help others understand, on a gut and emotional level, through my books. I try to help people understand the severity of the effects, and also that healing is possible. I wish everyone who thought that child abuse or child porn was okay had to experience, just briefly through a good book, what it’s actually like. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so quick to encourage it to happen.

Child porn isn’t okay. Watching it isn’t okay. Making it isn’t okay. And while I don’t think people who watch, download, and/or buy child porn should get a higher sentence than people who create it, I do think there should be consequences. It’s never okay to exploit children (or anyone else). It’s never okay to use and harm others for your own pleasure.

So I will never buy a John Grisham book. I will never recommend his books to any of my friends. And I hope you will think twice about buying his books, or that you will consider donating to an organization that supports survivors, such as RAINN or your local rape crisis center, or an organization that fights child porn and child exploitation. We can make a healing, positive difference in this world. And it starts with compassion.

About Cheryl Rainfield

I write the books I needed and couldn't find as a teen. I write teen fiction--paranormal fantasy and gritty realistic fiction. I'm the author of SCARS (WestSide Books, 2010) #1 ALA QuickPicks, and Governor General Literary Award Finalist, HUNTED (WestSide Books, Oct 2011), STAINED (Harcourt, 2013), The Last Dragon (HIP Books, Sept 2009), and Walking Both Sides (HIP Books, 2011). I also enjoy drawing, surfing the web, connecting with people I like, doing crafts, and being with my dog.
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7 Responses to Why I Won’t Be Buying Books By John Grisham

  1. raven says:

    I know from my life long abuse. he is way wrong.us survivors are witness to us making it through all our trials

  2. Raven, I’m sorry you’ve been through abuse. (hugging you) And yes, survivors are strong.

  3. Jessie says:

    I cannot express my utter shock and disappointment that someone would make such an irresponsible comment! John Grisham author of A Time To Kill, one of the most graphic (in my opinion as i generally tend to avoid watching these kinds of films) scenarios of a child rape scene, can be the one to say it!! Surely when one writes and brings to life a character whether fiction or not you feel every single thing the character feels…every violation whether physical or emotional. Even though he has apologised I will not ever be able to bring myself to buy his books again! He should know he cannot hide behind being under the influence of mind altering narcotics whilst being interviewed. These are his words his opinion and he should own it and live with the consequences. i certainly hope the FBI on monitoring his online activities…it would not surprise me what they find…

  4. Jessie, I’m disappointed, too, and appalled at the lack of compassion and empathy for victims in what he said. I think often writers feel empathy for the characters they write, and feel what the characters feel–I know that’s how I write–but perhaps not all do. And I agree; I think often when people say something under the influence (or especially), they say what they really think.

  5. Conrad Hall says:

    Hi Cheryl,
    Thank you for sharing this. It had escaped my notice.

    I visited the site where the interview was posted, and read through the whole article. That Mr. Grisham later claimed to be under the influence of medication is a sad attempt at damage control.

    Particularly striking is his stating that “it wasn’t 10 year old boys.” So a guy watching child porn with girls is okay, but a guy watching child porn with boys is wrong? Further, a lawyer – under any circumstances – breaking the law should be cut slack? These certainly seem like the double standards that allow systemic corruption.

    Yes, Cheryl. I agree with your decision to not purchase Mr. Grisham’s books. He has shown his true colours, and they are dark indeed.

  6. Little L says:

    Cheryl, Glad you put this out there. What a bunch of crap for John Grisham to try to water down a felonious offense like child pornography. Are there really folks that “accidentally” download and watch child porn? Is it like “oops, I forgot my umbrella on a rainy day? ” or “silly me, I forgot to pay for that candy bar in my pocket”…No, I think not.

  7. Conrad, yes, I saw that comment! UG. It really grossed me out. And thank you.

    Little L, thank you. Yes, that seems like a strange thing to suggest. Reaching for an excuse kind of strange.

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