Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

August 1, 2010 Whitney Review 4 Comments

Review: To Kill A MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Published by Harper on May 23, 2006
Genres: Classic
Source: Bought

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a coming of age story, but the focus is not on raging hormones.  Harper Lee’s novel deals with prejudice of race and financial standing, rape and the battle of good against evil, showcasing that life is not always fair or as black and white as it appears to be.

The reader steps into the skin of six-year-old Scout Finch, living in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s.   Through Scout and her brother Jem we see the world how ever unfair, through the innocent eyes of a child who slowly grows up and comes to an understanding of her surroundings.

The incident  begins with their reclusive neighbor, with the children not being able to leave well enough alone and summer after summer try to get Boo to come out and play.  To be honest, the really instigator on this mission with Dill, a precocious little boy who is the master of tall tales.  I should also mention that Dill was based on Harper Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote.

Summer ends and School begins, with Scout having difficulty adjusting.  Her idea of problem solving is using her fists rather than words, with regular telling-tos by her older (by four years) and wiser brother Jem and rational father Atticus.

Her father is also a lawyer and defends Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white women.  With their father being named as a disgrace ice begins to fall in the children’s snow globe of a world-changing their perspective on everything they thought they once knew.  There’s no need to reveal the verdict of Mayella Ewell’s case, it was 1936 , it was open and shut from the beginning.

No matter how many times it is read To Kill A Mockingbird leaves a strong impact taking more and more away after each reread.  Either wishing Atticus Finch was your father or having a better understand of the metaphor in To Kill A Mockingbird “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.  Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.”  This is true on so many levels, a main example of this is the treatment of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson.

I think I will close by reminiscing of the first time I read To Kill A Mockingbird, it was labeled as required reading in ninth grade and remember my teacher saying it was her favorite book.  At the tender age of fourteen most of the symbolism went over my head and didn’t pick it up again until senior year of high school.  Then I had an aha moment, so this is what Mrs. Fields was talking about.


4 responses to “Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. I read this back in ninth grade and I honestly can't remember any of it. I know the book is celebrating its 50th anniversary, so perhaps I just need to read it again to see if it sparks some memories.

  2. Allie– A reread is certainly in order, especially since you're reading the classics.

    BookQuoter– TKAM is a top ten for me as well. I don't think I'll ever get tired of it.

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