Confessions of an Accidental Lawyer, by Michael Stockham

Confessions of an Accidental Lawyer by Michael Stockham

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yet another hyped and totally overrated novel… Daniel “Bear” Simmons is a freshly graduated lawyer with no courtroom experience and 150.000 US-$ in college debt. His wife, Hannah “Buzz” Simmons used to be a teacher who has now moved on to almost fanatically follow her path to mother of four.

The novel starts with Hannah in hospital after giving birth to their first child, Lilly. Something has gone wrong postpartum, though, and Hannah is suffering from bleeding and infections.

Shortly after, Daniel is handed the pro bono case of a prisoner who sues his prison for not properly supplying him with his required medicines.

These double premises are the fundamental problem of “Confessions”: It can’t really decide what it wants to be – courtroom drama or pregnancy drama. Consequently, it miserably fails on both levels.

The courtroom drama is short-lived, undramatic and its resolution, both in court and beyond, obvious from the very beginning. I was wondering if the author would be bold enough to take a different path entirely from the one well-trodden and known to everyone by now. Or if at least he would introduce a twist but, sadly, Stockham took the exact same way as countless others before him. So, if you’ve read one proper courtroom drama, you don’t need to read this one.

As for the pregnancy drama, we need to take a closer look at both Hannah and Daniel: Hannah has pretty much given up on anything in her life but her husband and is almost fanatically obsessed with having four children. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it all started feeling somewhat weird when it became clear it would have to be her biological children… After life-threatening medical issues at the end of the first pregnancy, both Hannah and Daniel are rightly told “there are many ways to become a parent these days” and their only reaction ever is “The perfunctory nature of his tone pisses me off.”.

Now, let’s remember neither have a dollar to their respective name but he has a 150k in debts. Hannah’s immediate reaction is to just look at her husband and expect him to come up with a solution like maybe finding a cash cow or a goose that lays golden eggs…
Daniel’s reaction is doubly curious: He starts working even harder, in the process neglecting the family he has in favour of the child that might (or might not) be. Also, he “prepares” by ordering as many credit cards as he can.

Then both proceed to hurl themselves into fertility treatment, IVF and further deep debt… And, of course, both ante- and postpartum much more drama ensues. Call me heartless if you must but with the courtroom drama gone sour (and the prisoner portrayed as a saint) and all that fertility and marriage drama, this entire novel failed to make me care for anyone, estranged me from its protagonists and becomes another entry into my “Hall of Meh!”.

Generous three stars out of five because I did want to finish it.

Ceterum censeo Putin esse delendam

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