Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

mockingbirdAuthor:           Harper Lee

Publisher:      Grand Central Publishing

                       Warner Books/Hachette

Website:        http://www.harperlee.com/

Type:             Fiction: American History

ISBN #:          978-0446310789

Pages:           281 Mass Paperback

Purchase:      $7.99 at Amazon.Com (HERE)
  

 

 The Story Line

This is a book with a couple of different story lines maintained within it.  The story is narrated by Scout Finch, an observant young girl living in Maycomb, Alabama.  She lives with her older brother Jem, and her father Atticus.  Scout’s mother has passed away, so she remains tight on the shirt-tails of Jem learning the way of the world from an intellegent viewpoint beyond her years.

In this small town, Atticus is a lawyer who has been appointed by the courts to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a poor, white girl Mayella.  It becomes obvious during Tom’s trial that he was physically unable to commit this crime due to an injury to one of his arms.  In addition, during this trial, it becomes clear that Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, was the actual perpetrator of beating up Mayella after her sexual advances towards Tom.  Despire Atticus’ convincing defense of  Tom, a jury of twelve cannot acquit him simply based on the color of his skin.  Bob seeks revenge towards Atticus for bringing to light the truths about his violence against Mayella, although he denies the truth of it.  Bob’s revenge is eventually enacted upon Scout and Jem one night on their way home from a school pageant.  Scout and Jem are saved from this attack by their neighbor with a mysterious past, Boo Radley. 

Boo has lived inside his home since an incident with the law as a young man/teen.  Rumors have surfaced about Boo’s craziness leading Scout and Jem to fear the worst about him looming within his home.  In the earlier points of the story, Scout and Jem’s fascination with Boo have them attempting to draw him out of his seclusion, including leaving items for him in a tree. 

Throughout the story, both Atticus and his black cook, Calpurnia, exemplify the true moral compasses to Scout and the reader. The bring light to the importance of equality for all men regardless of race, color, or creed.  They are the voice of reason in this town’s ever-present injustice. 

My Review

16878_aThis Pulitzer Prize winning book (1961), has received numerous other awards over the years.  After reading upon Harper Lee’s history, I find this book to be loosely based on her life growing up in rural Alabama.  She is a descendant of Robert E. Lee and the daughter of a lawyer, who attended law school, herself.  In 2007, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the truth in the content of this book.  The truth I am speaking of is that no man, nor any woman, should be sentenced to a crime that he/she did not commit solely based on the color of his/her skin.  In addition, no man or group of people should be locked up and judged based on their religious beliefs (as identified by Scout’s observations of Hilter’s actions against the Jews).   For the time that this book was written, I find it brave of Harper Lee to speak such truths in a nation still filled with so much prejudice against the African-American population of our country.  

This book has so many other characters and nuiances than as described in the story line above.  There are many sub-stories about the internal prejudices of this town based on the breeding and wealth of its members.  For example, Scout raises the question as to why she can’t play with a little boy just based upon who his family is. 

Scout’s viewpoint, as well as Jem’s at times, represents how we should look at others and what true justice should look like.  Atticus is the most patient and loving father that any girl could ever want.  Dill, Scout’s childhood sweetheart, to me represented the innocence of love and joy and the naivety of the human’s mind.  Calpurnia just enveloped me with warmth and integrity.  The characters of this book are all key to the overall message of the story.

This book is written with southern dialects and maintains much in it about what the life was like in its time period.  It maintains a high level of symbolism and leads way to study on meanings laid within the text of the book.

On Sher’s “Out of Ten Scale”:

This is the part of my review that I regret.  This is obviously a national literary treasure to our country.  The content is important and I believe this to be a very good choice for American Literature studies in school.  It is very well written and loved by, I’m sure, most or all.  However, I just didn’t PERSONALLY find a connection to the book as I had hoped.  Let me give an example, in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, I was deeply connected to the narrator and the story and I loved that book.  However, with Scout and Mockingbird, I didn’t feel that same connection.  I did appreciate, however, the message of the book and couldn’t agree more whole-heartedly.  For example, read this key passage:

“… As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

This book is filled with truths like this one that are relevant and timeless.  For that, I appreciate this literature and respect it greatly.  (Now comes the big “However”).  However, I just didn’t really connect to this book emotionally.  I appreciate it, but I didn’t love it.  Therefore, strictly from my PERSONAL viewpoint, I am awarding this book for the genre Fiction: American History an 8 out of 10.  I must add, however, that this is a classic.  If you haven’t read it and you are interested in reading this content, I would definitely recommend it!  Reading this work only would make you a more diversified, intelligent and well-read person.

President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to author Harper Lee during a ceremony Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in the East Room. "To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country for the better. It's been a gift to the entire world. As a model of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be read and studied forever," said the President about Harper Lee's work. White House photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to author Harper Lee during a ceremony Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in the East Room. “To Kill a Mockingbird has influenced the character of our country for the better. It’s been a gift to the entire world. As a model of good writing and humane sensibility, this book will be read and studied forever,” said the President about Harper Lee’s work. White House photo by Eric Draper

 

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16 Responses

  1. Kathy

    February 21st, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I read this years ago and have re-read it several times over the years. I loved it. Maybe I connected more to Scout because I was a teen-ager and closer to her age.

    Kathy’s last blog post..Coraline – the movie

  2. Ladytink_534

    February 21st, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    I’ve read this book twice but I really think I should read it again :)

    Ladytink_534’s last blog post..Pretty is as Pretty Does

  3. Molly

    February 21st, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    I have just finished teaching this book to my 9th graders – for the 3rd year in a row. Each time I read it, I find that I love it even more. I think it is Lee’s diction that I find so enthralling.

    Molly’s last blog post..The Hour I First Believed

  4. Alyce

    February 21st, 2009 at 7:11 pm

    I remember loving this book when I read it as a teenager, but I haven’t read it since then, so I don’t know what I would think of it as an adult.

    Alyce’s last blog post..Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn – Review

  5. Margo M

    February 21st, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    Hi! How have you been? I loved this book it was one of my favorites, but I noticed when I reread it with both my girls that I didn’t connect with it as much as I did when I was in the 8th grade! The movie version is a huge part of my connection with it too. It may be one of the only the movies that is perhaps even better than the book… I know – blasphemy! If you’ve never seen it, it is fabulous. Gregory Peck is divine and a very young Robert Duvall plays Boo Radley. Lee modeled Dill after Truman Capote who was her friend while growing up. He is a favorite of mine too – not In Cold Blood, for which he is best known, but pretty much every other word he ever wrote. There is a folk tale that he actually had quite a hand in the final version of TKAMB. Interesting. Bye!

    Margo M’s last blog post..Go Ask the Dolly Lama

  6. Lisamm

    February 22nd, 2009 at 7:24 am

    I loved it when I read it in high school but haven’t read it since so I’m not sure how my adult self would feel about it. One of the best things about having kids is being able to rediscover books you read in your own youth, and I’m sure we will get to this one. So far I’ve re-read the whole LIttle House series, Charlotte’s Web, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, The Secret Garden, etc with my kids and I look forward to the books we’ll all read as they get older!

    Church tonight? Can we get together?

    Lisamm’s last blog post..Review: Swim to Me by Betsy Carter

  7. Darlene

    February 22nd, 2009 at 10:06 am

    I loved this book–it’s one of my favorites of all time. I really did connect with Scout–I just found her a character that tugged at me for some reason. I just read it a few years back but was seriously considering rereading it for the Classics Challenge. We’ll see. Have a great Sunday!

    Darlene’s last blog post..The Classics Challenge 2009

  8. Amanda

    February 24th, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I haven’t read the book, but like Margo, I loved the movie. My daughter and I both enjoyed immensely.

    When I think of the movie To Kill A Mockingbird, I automatically think of “A Time To Kill” with Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock. It’s story line is in reverse to TKAM. It is injustice when 2 white men rape a little black girl, and they look they are going to get away with it because of they are white. Fantastic move also.

  9. Anna

    February 28th, 2009 at 5:52 am

    I’ve always meant to read this book, especially after reading Capote in Kansas. Maybe after I tame my TBR pile a bit.

  10. Bumbles

    March 2nd, 2009 at 8:59 am

    This is my favorite book and I re-read it often. Maybe because my family is from the South and I can see much of my mother in Scout I connect with it more? I think if you saw the movie you would be pulled in more strongly – Gregory Peck is amazing as Atticus. The story to me really is about Jem and transitions. How the world is changing and their town is beginning to work their way through racism. How Jem is becoming a man and striving to be like his father while still wanting to play with his tag-along sister and visiting friend Dill (who was based on Harper Lee’s real life best friend Truman Capote). How the neighbor Boo transitions to Arthur. I could go on and on. Watch the movie – you will love it.

  11. 101 Books Every Woman Should Read « Library@Kendriya Vidyalaya Pattom

    November 19th, 2009 at 8:02 am

    […] To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The life lessons young Scout learns in this book teach her to see the good in humanity despite the ugliness people can often show. […]

  12. szkoly tanca w krakowie

    October 19th, 2010 at 5:56 am

    I can’t think of anything wrong to say about your article. Thumbs up!

  13. rankings

    January 24th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    This is my favorite book and I re-read it often. Maybe because my family is from the South and I can see much of my mother in Scout I connect with it more? I think if you saw the movie you would be pulled in more strongly – Gregory Peck is amazing as Atticus. The story to me really is about Jem and transitions. How the world is changing and their town is beginning to work their way through racism. How Jem is becoming a man and striving to be like his father while still wanting to play with his tag-along sister and visiting friend Dill (who was based on Harper Lee’s real life best friend Truman Capote). How the neighbor Boo transitions to Arthur. I could go on and on. Watch the movie – you will love it.
    rankings´s last blog post ..Top 10 Beaches In The World Ranking

  14. 100 Books to read… « Armida Books

    February 26th, 2012 at 5:18 am

    […] To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Lee’s popular classic explores racism, justice, family ties, and more in a story that is difficult to forget. […]

  15. Bob MacKinnon

    April 25th, 2012 at 7:03 am

    I used this book to intellectually expose my little daughter to racism and injustice. The price she paid was the removal of her “rose-colored glasses.” She now knows that good and evil coexist. She cried frequently during her reading. More important though, she made a life decision not to remain quiet while others around her exploit their circumstances. The reasons individuals abuse others may be less important that the actions, but it is our inaction that lets others profit from their abuse. What a book!

  16. 100 Books to read… | Armida Books

    March 14th, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    […] To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Lee’s popular classic explores racism, justice, family ties, and more in a story that is difficult to forget. […]


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