To Kill a Mockingbird, By Harper Lee
Everyone I mentioned this book to was shocked I had never read it. So many of us were forced to read it in grade school, though I honestly cannot remember reading it. Maybe I watched the movie and faked it, this is a very good possibility. This book was banned in public schools for a period of time, and doing a bit of research it appears the book is still banned in some schools. The reason most cited is the “book’s strong language, discussion of sexuality and rape, and use of the n-word.” Yes, I would agree, these are all things to consider when choosing an appropriate age when targeting the reader.
There is something about catching up on the classics however, that has become a new passion of mine. I chose this one as a recommendation from a professor. So I choked my way through the first half of the book with little interest. I suppose this would have been a better read as an early teen. Reading the story about three small children was uneventful, the southern twang was also hard to catch on to. The entire first half of the book has some important building blocks for the second half, such as laying the framework for the relationship between Atticus (the father) and his two children Scout and Jem. I fell in love with Atticus, a gentle and kind man who gives his children guidelines but also encourages them to think for themselves.
The second half of the book has the children a few years old and has a completely different feel. This is where the plot picks up. The trial, the social conflicts, injustice, murder and rape, suspense, it really had all the elements that kept me eagerly turning the pages. I found it distressing to read about the injustice of Tom Robinson, the character in the book being tried for a rape he clearly did not commit. Each character that Harper Lee creates is rich leaves the reader satisfied to the unique qualities of each one. I have always enjoyed books that depict a certain period of time and continue to open our eyes to the parallel worlds we still live in today. This book does just that. A black man is tried for a crime he did not commit. Evidence suggested he was not guilty, yet a great injustice still occurred.
History has a way of repeating itself. Will we ever break this mold? Sometimes the news is silent on racial matters, until something happens and we hear an uproar, then everyone jumps on their soap boxes. Only to have the situation eventually be buried by other news and it goes quiet, though I suspect it never goes quiet for the families involved.
Back to the book. Overall I did enjoy this book, though not as much as I had expected to.
Do you have any favorite classics I can add to my list? Have you ever re-read a classic you loved when you were younger, only to find it no longer holds the same meaning to you?