I don't know why I never read "To Kill a Mockingbird" before now; it was just one of those books that everyone else has read that I never really got aI don't know why I never read "To Kill a Mockingbird" before now; it was just one of those books that everyone else has read that I never really got around to reading. Now that I have, my main impressions are: Atticus Finch is a badass, and what took me so long?
Harper Lee is a very sensory writer, and paints an incredibly vivid picture of life in Depression-era Alabama. In choosing to narrate the story from the point of view of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, Lee manages to marry a myriad of different themes in an organic way that never feels particularly preachy or forced. On top of addressing the issues of segregation and racism in the South, Lee also deftly tells the story of a child losing his innocence as he eventually leaves his childhood behind. Lee also manages to sneak in a subplot about feminism in the South, though it generally takes a back-seat to everything else that's going on.
That being said, I hesitate to give it five stars simply because it didn't leave me feeling much other than, "That was a good book." I think that's in part, because I felt like the Boo Radley storyline at times felt somewhat jammed in. The book opens with lazy summer days where the children invent ways to meet their recluse neighbor, promptly forgets him, and then brings him back at the end to illustrate the "mockingbird" symbolism.
All in all, "To Kill A Mockingbird" is a book everybody should read, if not for the story than at least for Atticus Finch (seriously, he's a badass). It's not the most mind-blowing piece of literature, but it is a solid piece of substantive fiction. ...more
When I first read "Jane Eyre" in the sixth grade, I found it unbearably boring. The good bits with Mr. Rochester were frustrating (just run off with hWhen I first read "Jane Eyre" in the sixth grade, I found it unbearably boring. The good bits with Mr. Rochester were frustrating (just run off with him to France!), the secret of Thornfield incredibly cliche and its feminist undertones completely went over my head.
I usually bristle when I hear people say a person is "too young" to fully understand a classic work. But in this case, I now realize I was too young to understand many of the finer points in "Jane Eyre."
Hailed as one of the first feminist books, "Jane Eyre" addressed female independence at a time when women were inherently subservient to their male relatives and husbands. Written in the first person, the book chronicles three stages of Jane's life, her struggle to be master of her own destiny, and her personal battle to find a balance between passion and sense.
Bronte is also unafraid to add a dash of the supernatural, making "Jane Eyre" a true gothic romance. Also, as Jane is described as "plain, poor and obscure" and Mr. Rochester is a child-hating, surly, ugly (though the casting of Michael Fassbender in the recent movie might say otherwise) grouch, their relationship has a real sense of underlying grit that makes it more compelling than many other couples in the same genre. The ending is a bit...convenient...but is altogether wholly satisfying (see "The Eyre Affair").
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this novel on a re-read. There's a lot of subtext that I'm sure I missed, and I look forward to reading this again sometime in the future. ...more