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To Kill a Mockingbird
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May 2018: Family Drama > To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee - 5***** and a ❤

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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6407 comments To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Digital audiobook performed by Sissy Spacek
5***** and a ❤

Is this the quintessential American Novel? Will it stand the test of time as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has done? Time will tell.

I do know this, however. This is a singularly powerful novel that had a great impact on me when I first read it at age 13 (shortly after it was first published) and has never failed to move and inspire me as I’ve re-read it over the years (at least 20 times by now). It has touched generations of readers in the 50-something years since it was first released and remains high on many “must be read” lists.

There are many reasons for this. It’s a well-paced novel, a fast read with elements of suspense, family drama, humor and moral lessons. Scout is a wonderful narrator, both as a child and as an adult looking back on her childhood; and the fact that Lee was able to seamlessly move between these two viewpoints is a testament to her skill as a writer.

Many people feel this is a book about racism. I don’t think that is the core theme of the book, though it is the central plot device Lee uses. I think the major theme of the novel is personal integrity and courage – doing what you know is right when all about you seemingly disagree and even when it may be dangerous to do so, being true to your own moral compass, and instilling those values in your children by example not just words.

In this respect Atticus Finch shines as the protagonist of this work. He is a man of strong moral fiber, a man who is “the same in his house as he is on the public street,” a man “who was born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” He embodies the lessons he tries to impart to his children: that courage is not a man with a gun in his hands but rather, “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

The novel aims a spotlight on a particular time and place in America’s history. Lee writes with clarity and colors this world for the reader with descriptions that put us squarely in Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935: Somehow it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

The minor characters, especially the women, are as richly drawn as the major players. I was struck by what a wide range of personalities, strengths, weaknesses and ethics Lee was able to express using characters such as Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Helen Robinson, Mrs Merriweather, Lula, Miss Maudie, Mrs Dubose, Miss Caroline and Mayella Ewell. Some of them appear for only a page or two, but they come alive on the page and remain in the reader’s memories.

The audio book is performed by Academy-Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek. She does an admirable job, though her accent is wrong. She is a Texan, and the Southern Alabama accent is softer than her twang. Still, by the second disc I had stopped noticing this, and allowed myself to be carried into the story by her expert reading.

LINK to my review

Idit | 1028 comments Well said & well reviewed.
I wholly agree about the main theme.

Also - there’s something about a story that has children as main protagonists that resonates in a special way - people relate to it in a way they won’t necessary to adult main characters

message 3: by KateNZ (new) - added it

KateNZ | 2679 comments Such a lovely review, BC. I agree the main theme is integrity and combating prejudice (whatever form that takes, whether it relates to race or mental illness or other ‘difference’ that people use to treat others as outsiders) - and that makes the book equally applicable wherever in the world the reader is. Her sense of place and time is so keen, though. And Scout has to be one of the best narrators of all time

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

I love your review. This is one of my all time favorite books. I’ve read it more than I can even count. Such a classic.

message 5: by annapi (last edited Jun 01, 2018 11:52PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

annapi | 5160 comments I really need to re-read this! It's one of my top 10 all-time (though I don't know what else is on that list)!

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