Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
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.