BOOK REVIEW: The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

34201164Title: The Rooster Bar

Author: John Grisham

Book Length (Audiobook): 10 hours 17 mins

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Thriller

Read Start Date: October 9, 2018

Read Finish Date: October 15, 2018

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. But now, as third-year students, these close friends realize they have been duped. They all borrowed heavily to attend a third-tier, for-profit law school so mediocre that its graduates rarely pass the bar exam, let alone get good jobs. And when they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam.
But maybe there’s a way out. Maybe there’s a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right? Well, yes and no . . .
Pull up a stool, grab a cold one, and get ready to spend some time at The Rooster Bar.

My Review: When their friend commits suicide, a trio of friends from law school, smothering under the weight of large student loans, decide to quit law school in their last semester and go into practice without a license.  In the process, they take on the machine behind the law school loan racquet, fraudulently joining a class action (more than 1,000 times under fake names) against the bank backing the predatory lending, to exact revenge against the unfair practice of enticing impressionable young people to enroll in a low tier law school.

This book really resonated with me, as I was once myself a law school student in at a law school that was definitely not an ivy league school.  Upon leaving law school, I was crushed under a debt of around $150,000, and was expected, without a job, to pay back nearly $1,700 a month in principal + interest, at varying interest rates, some as high as 8%.  I suffered under this debt for nearly 10 years and paid well over $150,000, only to move to Austria, where students go to school (even University and law school) virtually for free — paying only nominal expenses.

This book not only gets it right about the predatory lending scheme of law school, and university in general in the United States, but tells a fun story of 3 students who weren’t going to take it anymore and who decided to do something about it.  While reading this book, I couldn’t help but to relate to the characters and their plight.

I have read other books by John Grisham, but this one is by far my favorite.

Barnegat Bay, New Jersey

View from Mantoloking Bridge, in Mantoloking New Jersey.

Mantoloking / Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, down to Pt. Pleasant Beach is a great place to run.  There is a small park before the bridge where the ReClam the Bay, a local non-profit organization is “reclamming” the Bay, or in other words, is trying to regrow the population of shellfish.  According to the signs located in the Park, there used to be millions of clams and oysters in the Bay.  However, due to various reasons (runoff (i.e., fertilizer) from the watershed (i.e., an area of land that drains to a common body of water), lack of management, and reduced habitat), there are only a fraction of them left.

Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program. There are clams growing inside the tank.

As also mentioned on the board standing next to the clam grow tank, the organization starts in July with baby seed clams, about 100,000 per upweller. Each is only about 2.5mm. By the end of the season, the clams have grown up to 20mm. In the fall, the clams are then planted in the Bay under protective screens to keep them safe from predators. They stay there for a full season, where they are then transferred into the Bay.

Statue provided by Brick High School Art Club

If you are ever at the Jersery shore, this little park is a great place to visit.  Not only does it have the cool clam box, but it also has a playground for children and a runner’s track. Currently living in the landlocked country of Austria, it is always great to run around the water front.