So, among the many books I still haven’t read but definitely should have at some point, there was To Kill a Mockingbird. For whatever reason, it wasn’t part of my high school American Lit syllabus, and I never read it in college.
And somehow, though I’m not sure exactly, I have never found out more than the basic moral plot of the book. I’ve heard character names, I’ve heard it speaks against racism, I know there’s a trial, but until this week I could not have told you for a second what those characters say or do, or how the book ends. Pretty proud of myself about that, actually.
As of now, that’s changed. TKAM is no longer a part of my To-Be-Read List. It’s on my Wow-Can’t-Believe-It-Took-Me-So-Long List.
REVIEW: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Plot: In 1930s Alabama, 6-year-old Scout navigates life with her father, Atticus, and older brother, 10-year-old Jem. When a new friend, Dill, comes to town, the siblings become curiouser and curiouser about notorious shut-in, Boo Radley, and learn to deal with the harsh truths of their town when Atticus, a lawyer, takes the case of Tom Robinson, a black man.
Most Memorable Line(s): “Until I feared to lose it, I never loved reading. One does not love breathing.”
-Such a cool line. What an incredible way to think about reading, and it’s true. I only know I love reading because I’ve had those moments where I don’t have the time. For a 6-year-old Scout, being told she can’t is lesson enough. Just great.
What I liked: Okay, so honestly, I fully understand now why this book is considered a must-read in life. Without being “preachy,” this book delves fully into the throws of what it means to be a moral human, and how we can live truly moral lives. It was fascinating. I was surprised, actually, by Harper Lee’s writing style. I’d expected a much more “difficult” read, so to speak. I have envisioned a book that would take me a while to really dig into the morality of the characters and plot. Luckily, I was wrong and Lee made this book incredibly simple and poignant in the best way. The way Lee wrote her characters is also a feat. In one book she managed to fully develop and distinguish the voices of a 6-9 year old girl, a tween boy, and a middle-aged father, not to mention the rest of the small Southern town. It’s truly impressive.
It’s actually funny, one of my favorite bloggers, Robert Bruce from 101 Books, posted a poll on Twitter asking if TKAM or The Great Gatsby was the better novel. I replied and said that, while I only just finished TKAM, I’d have always bet that my answer would be Gatsby, because that book is literally a gem. But today, I’m just not sure! To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that I never expected. I never expected anything that happened throughout the story – from the first time they meet Dill to Tom Robinson’s trial to the Halloween Pageant. I’m so glad I never learned what this book was about, because taking it all in for the first time literally unaware was such an incredible pleasure.
What I didn’t like: There were times, though, when Lee’s plot confused me. I’m still not sure if the Boo Radley or Tom Robinson storyline is meant to be the defining one of the book. It’s incredible, though, that she managed to put both of them in one book, because they really didn’t necessarily seem to fit together. Each could’ve been its own story – although the Boo Radley portion would’ve needed more umph to it. Boo Radley seems so significant to the story, but I’m just not sure why. And I wish I did because whatever the reason, I like that he’s there.
Grade: 9.5/10, because I’m still not quite sure about Boo’s purpose.