Sunday, August 1, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Anniversary EditionTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
review copy provided by Harper Perennial
Summary from Goodreads:
Lawyer Atticus Finch defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—a, a black man charged with the rape of a white woman. Through the eyes of Atticus's children, Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unanswering honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s.

My take:
One of the ways that helps me decide that a book is an example of really good writing and that the book can be considered a classic is that people find so many different things to say about it.  To Kill a Mockingbird is a great example of this. Every review you read about this book picks something different that was important or meaningful to that reader. And every time I read a review I think, Yes, that's what I think is important too -- and that -- and that.  I love that about this book.  I honestly have no idea why I hadn't read the book before -- I should have --- I was the kid in high school who read all the classics.  This book still haunts me. The characters alone are enough to keep a person thinking for a lifetime. Atticus Finch is a prime example of this.  It is difficult to compare one's own character to Atticus Finch because most of us will find ourselves sorely lacking. There is much to be learned from this book on many topics. And I love the dialogue.

On snobbishness:
Well Jem, I don't know - Atticus told me one time that most of the Old Family stuff's foolishness because everybody's family's just as old as everybody else's. I said did that include the colored folks and the Englishmen and he said yes. ~ Scout
On parenting:
 When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasions simply muddles 'em. ~ Atticus
On understanding people:

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it. ~Atticus

There are so many more examples of things that are thought provoking. I understand why To Kill a Mockingbird is often required reading for kids in school, but I fear that they don't get as much from it as they would if they read it as adults.

I've seen several references to To Kill a Mockingbird as being considered by some to be Southern Gothic, and while I think everyone can agree that it is indeed a Southern novel, I am not quite so sold on the Gothic part. While Boo Radley is the bogeyman to the children of the town, he is in actuality, just a human -- no real supernatural elements here. But, on the other hand, since the other elements of Southern Gothic are included: bigotry, self-righteousness, use of deeply flawed characters to make social commentary - it could be argued that it is southern Gothic. At the very least, it has heavily influenced more recent examples of the genre.


  1. Very nice review! I agree that kids don't get as much from this book as adults. I read it in school but I would probably really enjoy it more now.

  2. Thank you. I was a little surprised by just how much I loved this book. I'm wanting to re-read it -- but my 15 year old took off with it, so I'll have to wait.

  3. Nice review! I like the idea of every reader taking something different away from this book. And I agree about kids being too young to read it. It's not the content but the message and joy of looking back on one's childhood that young teenagers aren't ready for. I haven't met anyone who liked TKAMB when they read it in highschool. I read it when I was 22 and just loved it!

  4. I am so glad to hear that others feel the same way that the youngsters probably don't get as much from TKAM as we adults do. Thank you for the lovely comments.

  5. Stopping by from the Ultimate Reviewer's Challenge, it's been interesting to read people's new takes on TKAM since the big anniversary of the book this year.

  6. Good review! I read this book just recently, and I didn't enjoy it at all. I was bored with it, I felt like it was hard to follow, and I just didn't see what the big hype was about. However, I did like Atticus the most as a character.


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