To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, February 11, 2011

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Pages: 376
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group) (this cover)
Release Date: 1960 (original)

I didn't quite read this in time to join the
50th anniversary festivities put on by Harper Collins but did make it during its 50th year. And despite having to read this for school in 7th grade and then going to see the play, this is the first time I truly have read it all (and didn't have any memory of any parts I may have read before!) This is also my sister's favorite book so we did a mini read-a-long together.

I'm so glad I finally read To Kill a Mockingbird! The amount of social commentary hidden behind the plot and the young girl's education about life surprised me, and I realized why this has been hailed as an American classic! This was a book about the treatment of people and the hypocrisy by many; it had remnants about the judicial system and its merits and faults; it was about society as a whole that, despite being set in the 1930's and published in 1960, is sadly depictive of today. While laws have changed and people may have come a long way, there are many areas of the country and many people who still prescribe to prejudice. And Harper Lee artfully illustrated all of this through the innocent eyes of a girl from the age of six to the age of ten: ages during which minds are impressed upon and beliefs are developed.

What I believe many people love about To Kill a Mockingbird is also the characters. Scout (otherwise known as Jean Louise Finch) is a naive, inquisitive, tomboy of a girl. She adores her older brother, Jem, and her father, Atticus, and considers herself engaged to their summer visitor, Dill. I mentioned to my sister after reading approximately 50 pages that Scout is a brat! But as I read further I realized Scout is just very young in thought and questioning the world around her (rightly so!) And I know others love the character of Atticus. Raising his children on his own after his wife's death (with no little help from the housekeeper/nanny, Calpurnia), he embodies the true Christian attitude of love for others and doing what is morally right. He treats his children well and teaches them to do the same for others.

One thing I didn't really get was how Scout referred to her father by his first name. It wasn't really explained, either, except for one short paragraph where a neighbor reprimands them for calling their father by his first name. I gathered from that paragraph and conversation with my sister that it had to do with his laid back style of parenting (which was frowned upon by others in the community) and the fact that there was no mother in the picture. However, I think Atticus is a great example of a parent who raises his children well. Another example of a parental role-model even for people in the current day.

I felt this was truly an important book and could clearly see why it is a classic. I will say, however, that 7th grade is likely too young to read and thoroughly appreciate this book... at least, in my case it was but I am so glad I returned to it as an adult.


Trish said...

I was supposed to read this as a sophomore in high school and I think even that was a bit too young! I read it again a few years after I graduated from college and enjoyed it and bet I'd enjoy it even more if I read it again now.

The characters are great, aren't they? But like you I always wondered about Scout calling her father Atticus!

Juju at Tales of said...

Great review. I'm often considered rereading this as well.

Zibilee said...

I love this book as well, but also feel that younger readers just wouldn't get it as much as older readers would. It has some really important and meaningful messages in it, and I think I also need to read it again. Thanks for the wonderful review!

Marce said...

I read this one for the 1st time last year for the anniversary. I understand why it is a classic for sure but wish I had read it while in highschool.

Amy said...

I think this applies to many of the classics we had to read in junior high and high school - so many of them had themes that just didn't register with me at that age and it is sometimes such an eye opener to read them again as an adult. For me, Catcher in the Rye and Lord of the Flies were two that I really enjoyed re-reading - your review makes me want to find a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and give it another chance, too!

Stephanie said...

I agree with Trish. This is a book I appreciated much more as an adult than as a teen. I liked it as an adolescent, but I saw much more richness there when I read it around age 40. :-)


christina said...

I read this last year and loved it even more than the first time. :D

Oh and I'll send an e-mail this week re: which school I work at!

Tina said...

Ive wanted to read this for years. I seem to have a hard time getting myself back to the classics.

This one and 1984 are on my must read lists! Lovely review Jenny

diaryofaneccentric said...

Glad to see you enjoyed this book. I finally read it myself just last year, and I'm so glad I read it as an adult. I don't think I would have truly understood it. The characters are wonderful, and the courtroom scene kept me on the edge of my seat!

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