Puck's Reviews > To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, historical-fiction, rory-gilmore-challenge, children-middle-grade

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

Finally, after 23 years, I read this classic and wow, people weren’t kidding: this book is something special. This novel isn’t only a great children’s book, but also a wonderful coming-of-age story of Jem and Scout, and a serious (adult) book about racism, honour, and different forms of courage.

This books reads like a play: you first start by setting the scene (Maycomb, a small Southern town in Alabama) and by growing familiar with the characters: the siblings Scout and Jem and their father Atticus. This slow start doesn’t appeal to everyone, but due to Harper Lee’s story telling I was never bored. The narrator of this story is young tomboy Jean Louise (Scout), and her observations of Maycomb and people’s behavior are simple, honest, and visually very rich. I had no problem picturing Scout, Jem and Dill’s childish efforts to draw Boo Radley out of his house, or Calpurnia taking the kids to a colored church.
But when, after 128 pages, the court case begins and the plot really becomes intriguing, you immediately feel a rise in tension and excitement. Here Jem and Atticus become the main characters instead of Scout because they are more aware of the risks and importance of the case, although Scout’s moment with the mob was heartwrenchingly beautiful in it’s innocence.
The last part of the book was less tense but never dull: it was important to show the aftermath and the effects of the case on different class – and races - of people to convey the impact of Atticus’ actions. Because back in 1935 and even now, in our current political situation, standing up for what’s right while the majority is against you, is an incredible brave and difficult thing to do.

“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It's knowing 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.”


One thing especially about this story that stood out to me, are the interesting gender roles in this book. We have Atticus who isn’t only presented as an amazing father but also as a great male character, because he’s patient, courteous, clever…but not traditionally masculine. In contrast with Bob Ewell, the main antagonist, Atticus isn’t physically strong, doesn’t use strong language, and hates violence (example: he keeps his shooting skills a secret from his children).
His sister, aunt Alexandra, is a very traditional female figure who wants Scout to behave more ‘lady like’, and because Scout doesn’t like her (at first), we as readers dislike her too. Acting as her opposites are Calpurnia and Miss Maudie, who neither show traditional feminine characteristics like politeness and charm, but both are presented as good and right.
And what do the other (minor) characters teach us? Like Mrs. Dubose, that nasty old lady, who is described by Atticus as ‘the bravest person he ever knew’? And what about Mayella Ewell? Lee leaves her role in the open, letting us decide if she’s either an antagonist or a victim.
"To Kill A Mockingbird" is a well-loved book for many good reasons, but I was very surprised by its diverse male and female characters, who make this story even richer that it already is.

So this was an absolute beautiful read, told by two precious children and an inspiring father, who teaches us about justice, prejudice, and empathy. A book I’ll definitely read to my children in the future, and a novel I can recommend to anyone.
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Quotes Puck Liked

Harper Lee
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
- Atticus Finch”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
“The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird


Reading Progress

January 4, 2017 – Shelved
January 4, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
January 4, 2017 – Shelved as: classics
January 4, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
January 7, 2017 – Shelved as: rory-gilmore-challenge
January 10, 2017 – Started Reading
January 10, 2017 –
page 0
0.0% "Let's start this month with a good classic :)"
January 10, 2017 –
page 0
0.0% "Let's start January with a classic, shall we? :) \n#FanatiekeNederlandseLezers"
January 14, 2017 –
page 177
54.63% "Atticus Finch, you are an incredible father and my new hero. I hope you'll stay save during the upcoming court case..."
January 15, 2017 –
page 248
76.54% " "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." "
January 19, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 21, 2017 – Shelved as: children-middle-grade

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Shahad (new) - added it

Shahad takleef This classic , I'VE WANTED TO READ IT SINCE FOREVER ! But then i always end up reading some other book .
something frightens me away , I think for some reason , i have the impression that its one of these books that are Great but starts slow and requires some patience , not much of a page -turner . thats why i never read it .


Philip So happy you read this even if it took you a little while haha :) My niece's name is Scout so it's clearly a family favorite.


Puck Philip wrote: "So happy you read this even if it took you a little while haha :) My niece's name is Scout so it's clearly a family favorite."

What can I say, better late than never! Haha, but actually the main reason for reading this book was because it was the book of the month for one of my Dutch reading Groups, so we read it all together and there wasn't a single member that disliked the book. So reading this novel was wonderful for many reasons :)

And what a cute name for your niece! Was she really named after Scout from the book or did your family just thought it was a great name?


Puck Shahad wrote: "This classic , I'VE WANTED TO READ IT SINCE FOREVER ! But then i always end up reading some other book .
something frightens me away , I think for some reason , i have the impression that its one o..."


Hmm, well you're right about the slow start, but you don't need much patience: the narrator of this book is a six-year old girl, so her tone and wordchoice aren't overly long or difficult. That's one of the aspects that make this story so great, in my opinion: the events that take place (a court case about a black man in a racist town) are very serious and complicated, but because we see everything through the eyes of a young girl, reading about it never becomes complicated.

I suppose the best way to see if you like this book is by giving it a try yourself, Shahad. The story might be a bit slow, true, but the way it's told I found very enjoyable and entertaining :)


Philip Puck wrote: "And what a cute name for your niece! Was she really named after Scout from the book or did your family just thought it was a great name? "

A little bit of both haha. We jokingly call her Jean Louise and my sister does not like that. :)


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