To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 1960. 281 pages.
I love rereading favorite books. I do. I don't get the chance as often as I'd like--too many new books wanting my attention. But rereading this one felt just right. When Annette from A Garden of Books suggested we read this one together, I was very excited!
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those rare novels--a true classic--with a dozen or more themes in it--but it feels so effortless to read, to savor. Yes, it's about justice, prejudice, race and class, etc. But above all else it is about ordinary people of all ages. Men. Women. Girls. Boys. Ordinary folks--Southern folks--living life as best they can.
Atticus Finch, the father of Scout, our narrator, challenges his children to think about things differently. "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" (30).
I loved Scout. I just LOVED her. The novel chronicles three years of her life. (Mostly summers--though school does play a role in the novel. And there is a great Christmas chapter!) Readers see Scout in relationship with various people--her father, Atticus, her brother, Jem, her summer-time friend, Dill, Calpurnia, the Finch's housekeeper, Aunt Alexandra, Uncle Jack, Miss Maudie (a neighbor), Mrs. Dubose (yet another neighbor), etc. And then, of course, there is the ever-mysterious Boo Radley. The man that fascinates Scout, Jem, and Dill.
When Atticus Finch is chosen to defend Tom Robinson a black man accused of raping a white woman, life changes--for better or worse--for his two children. Many in the community can't understand why he actually takes the case seriously. Why he is putting his all into it, treating it as a real case. But Atticus says it well when he says, "Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man" (104) and "The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience" (105).
Harper Lee did a GREAT job with her characters. They're so richly detailed. Many characters feel so real, so human. It is a joy to spend time with Scout. To become a part of her world. To see the world through her eyes. She also did great with descriptions. Whether the scene is serious--heartbreaking--or comical--Harper Lee has a way of describing it in a way that is memorable and true to life.
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. (18)
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)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
"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)