To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (plows right into the top books I have read this year and top books I have read in my lifetime)
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em,
but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.
Meet Jean Louise Finch, but do not call her that. Call her Scout. Scout is 8. She lives with her slightly older brother Jem and her father Atticus who is a lawyer. As they hang out and play in their neighborhood they become increasingly infatuated with a man named Boo Radley, who is 30 years old and has not been seen out of his home where he lives with for family for more years than Scout has been alive. The imagination of Scout, Jem, and a boy named Dill get the best of them as they imagine the monster that must be Boo Radley.
Scout’s father Atticus becomes a defense attorney for a black man who is falsely accused of raping a white woman in a time when that is just acceptable in the eyes of the towns people. Scout and Jem become targets at school because of this and as the story progresses, the children see first hand the prejudices around them.
A book wrapped around the deep south, interesting and delightful characters such as Scout, Jem, and the infamous Boo, along with a father named Atticus and how his decision to defend the innocent, makes for all that is To Kill A Mockingbird.
When this book came up for the 50 Anniversary I knew I had to read it this year. I thought I was one of the last people on earth who had not read To Kill A Mockingbird, but as the conversations came up about this book, I discovered there were a lot of people who have not read this book.
You know what else I discovered?
We are all missing something remarkable by not reading this. I was so impressed by the writing of this book. I can not stress that enough, Harper Lee is an amazing writer who writes with words that are just as relevant today as they were in 1960 when the book was first written.
The sixth grade seemed to please him from the beginning: he went through a brief Egyptian Period that baffled me – he tried to walk flat a great deal, sticking one arm in front of him and one in back of him, putting one foot behind the other. He declared Egyptians walked that way; I said if they did I didn’t see how they got anything done, but Jem said they accomplished more than the Americans ever did, they invented toilet paper and perpetual embalming, and asked where would we be today if they hadn’t? Atticus told me to delete the adjectives and I’d have the facts. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 7
The words are poetic, rhythmic, I can’t even tell you how many times I was in awe of the writing, smiling to myself at how brilliantly written each line is. Kicking myself again for thinking this would be another wordy hard to read classic that would no doubt give me a head ache before it was done. I can not wait to see the movie!
When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em. ~Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 9
In the end, I feel it is safe to say that this book just reached into the elite group that holds the spots of the best books I have ever read. Everyone needs to read this book.
I received my review copy of this book from Harper Perennial