Friday, February 14, 2014

Reread #7 To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 1960. 281 pages. [Source: Book I Own]

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite, favorite books. I love, love, love the movie. And I adore the book as well. It's a simple novel rich in truth. I love the narrative voice of Scout. I think Scout is one of the most memorable narrators ever.

One of the things that I think makes the book work so well is how it is able to be serious and dramatic AND comical. It captures the little every-day moments so well. Family relationships. Community relationships. Nosy neighbors or spooky ones. A good balance of summer-time freedom and the structure of school. It's definitely one of the best coming-of-age stories. At the same time, it is a very honest examination of racism and injustice.

To Kill A Mockingbird has a great, compelling story to tell. And Harper Lee knew how to tell a story. But it isn't the story alone that is unforgettable: it is the characters. Such characterization!!! Such depth!!! Who could not love Scout, Jem, and Atticus?! Who could not love Calpurnia, Dill,  Miss Maudie, and Boo Radley?!

I first reviewed it in October 2007. I also reviewed it in August 2010.

Favorite quotes:
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. (18)
"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
"Sir?"
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (30)
"If you shouldn't be defendin' him, then why are you doin' it?"
"For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town, I couldn't represent the county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again."
"You mean if you didn't defend that man, Jem and me wouldn't have to mind you any more?"
"That's about right."
"Why?"
"Because I could never ask you to mind me again. Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least once in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one's mine, I guess. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change...it's a good one even if does resist learning. (76)
Atticus said to Jem one day, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
"Your father's right," she said. "Mockinbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. (90)
It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (112)
In Maycomb County, it was easy to tell when someone bathed regularly, as opposed to yearly lavations: Mr. Ewell had a scalded look; as if an overnight soaking had deprived him of protective layers of dirt, his skin appeared to be sensitive to the elements. Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row of red geraniums in the Ewell yard. (179)
"How could they do it, how could they?"
"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it--seems that only children weep. Good night." (213)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

4 comments:

Suko 3:26 PM  

Wonderful review of this classic novel, Becky! I read it many years ago and am due for a reread. Your quotations showcase the beauty of the writing.

hopeinbrazil 1:47 PM  

Becky, thanks for this great review of a book I really need to read (It's one of the few physical books I brought back with me to Brazil.)

Kailana 2:41 PM  

Every year I say I am going to read this... And then I don't! I really have to get to it.

Becky 3:08 PM  

Kailana, you should definitely, definitely listen to this one on audio!!!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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