Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird

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)

"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."
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unknown said...

Great review and kudos for reading and re-reading the classics. It certainly shows in your writing style.


Laura H said...

This is truly a wonderful book. If you ever have the chance to listen to it on CD I highly recommend it. Sissy Spacek did the reading and she did a great job.

Julie P said...

I need to read this book. I am trying to read my way through Pride & Prejudice right now and it is pretty slow going.....

Mari - Escape In A Book said...

I love To Kill A Mockingbird, it's a wonderful book. I second with Laura's recommendation, the audio book is just great. Great review, Becky :)

Willow said...

Your great review has reminded me to read this one. I feel as though I have, but I think it's just that I've seen (and loved) the movie several times.

Melissa said...

I should reread this, since I don't think I have since high school. And I *love* the cover of that edition. So beautiful!

JaneGS said...

This is a book that never fails to live up to its hype--I think you really picked some fabulous quotes that capture the characters, themes, and wisdom of the book.

Nicely done.

Kate Scott said...

I love this book! You did a terrific review of it. I'd like to see the movie sometime too.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I feel the same way, I rarely reread my favorites, but sometimes I wish I did it more. I just reread this one last year and loved it as much as ever.