At one point in John Grisham's life, he had wanted to play professional baseball. Unfortunately, he found that he was not major league material. Later in life he would decide to go to law school and practiced law for almost ten years. At some point in his legal career, Grisham decided to start writing novels that revolved around the courtroom. While many people tend to associate those types of novels with Grisham, he has a few that stray from his usual crime themes. Many years after Grisham began his writing career, he published his first baseball book, Calico Joe. Knowing Grisham's past with baseball, it is easy to see why the story felt somber. During an interview, Grisham even admitted that a good baseball story needs to break your heart the way the game breaks the players. Calico Joe certainly fits that criteria as it is filled with heartbreak and pain. .
Calico Joe has many themes that not only draws the reader in, but makes this story a heartfelt and touching read. Grisham immediately presents the reader with a pretty good idea of the type of relationship the main character, Paul, has with his father, Warren. He begins to elaborate upon this relationship by slowly revealing situations Warren put Paul through. However, Grisham paints Paul out to be a good father and husband. Paul seems to have taken the negative that he experienced with his father and do the exact opposite with his family. The reader also sees that the idea of forgiveness is quite important in this story. What most readers probably found surprising was how willing Joe was to forgive Warren. It was if Joe had forgiven Warren before an apology was even given. On the other hand, the reader sees how unwilling Paul is to forgive Warren for everything he had done. When Paul dropped his father off at the airport after their meeting with Joe, Warren tried to apologize to Paul, and he admitted there are many things in life that he regretted.