Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

I felt like 2017 just flew by, but for some reason I don’t feel the same about 2018. I felt like January was a really long month. So this year, I plan to read at least 12 classics and if you want to join in a fun challenge I created then use the hashtag #12months12classics on Instagram. Now the idea is to have a support group who are reading classics this year. You can pick whatever you want, share ideas and if someone is reading the same classic then have great discussions with them.

As for me, I read Jane Eyre in January and loved it. Although, it did not hit home run for me like it did for most folks, I would highly recommend it to one and all. There is so much to learn and take inspiration from the character Jane Eyre and also really appreciate Charlotte Bronte’s writing which was way ahead of the time in which it was written in.

To Kill a Mockingbird was the classic I read this month and I loved it. The writing style, character building, multiple themes ultimately all converging at the end were some of the few things I really enjoyed. Although, there won’t be any spoilers that I will give out, I plan to write this review by talking a little more elaborately about the specific things I like about this book. If you haven’t read this book before then read at your own risk. As this a famous classic, the end goal is to discuss the greatness of this book and if you have a different opinion or liked other parts of the book then please comment down below. I truly want to absorb the greatness of this book.

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I read this book from the Reader’s Digest edition which has an insert about the author. Fun facts about Harper Lee:

  1. Harper Lee was called Nelle, was a tomboy and loved story telling even as a kid. She was inspired by her lawyer father Amasa Lee and joined University of Alabama to study law with an ultimate goal of joining her father’s law firm along with her elder sister.
  2. She dropped out from college 6 months before graduating and moved to New York City. (Yuh-huh our one hit wonder was a college drop out)
  3. She took up a job as an airline reservation clerk to support herself and wrote short stories in the night. When she was encouraged by a literary agent to write a fiction novel, Nelle was in a dilemma as she didn’t have the time to write while supporting herself. So her friends gave her the best Christmas gift ever in 1956, an offer to support her one full year financially so that she could focus on writing (Can anyone tell me where I can find friends like that?)
  4. The result? We all know the story. She won a Pulitzer price in 1961 a year after first publishing the book, had an opportunity to dine with then President John F Kennedy.

Now to the actual book it self. Sorry about the long introduction to actually jump into what I thought about the book but this is special. Don’t you think? 🙂

The story revolves around Atticus Finch a white lawyer who decided to stand up for an innocent victim irrespective of the victim’s race/color/status. The story is first person narrative of Jean Louise Finch (referred to as Scout) who was about 6 or 7 years old when the story first starts. Although, the plot was told from the perspective of a child it doesn’t miss the impact of the key subjects discussed. The reader learns about the 1950s landscape through Scout’s eyes.

Scout and her brother Jem finch first make a friend Dill who visits Maycomb county in summers. Together they explore the tale of Boo Radley a neighbor who the children never see but they’ve heard enough rumors about the Radley’s that they let their imaginations run wild, dare each other even when they are scared and go to the extent of acting plays to keep themselves entertained. I loved this part of the plot. It reminded me of the scary stories about thieves that my grand mother used to tell me and  my sister when we were kids visiting my grand parents in the summer. As the kids grow up so they start to be less and less curious about the house and also less scared, their attention is diverted about the more important things happening in their lives.

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The character building in this book was a good as the plot of the book. My favorite characters were Atticus Finch, Miss Maudie, Calpurina and Scout Finch. If I had to pick one favorite then it would be Atticus Finch’s character. I love that he gives Scout and Jem the freedom they want as kids but also commands enough respect that they obey him. Initially, Scout and Jem have some inhibitions about their dad which is completely turned around when there is an incident of the mad dog. The children learn a valuable lesson that their father chooses to be the way he is but it should not be mistaken for a sign of weakness. That was one of the high points for me in the book.

Miss Maudie grinned wickedly. “Well, now, Miss Jean Louise,” she said, “still think your father can’t do anything? Still ashamed of him?”

“No’m,” I said meekly.

“Forgot to tell you the other day that besides playing the Jew’s harp, Atticus Finch was the deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time.”

“Dead shot…” echoed Jem.

The plot progresses slowly but gives the reader enough to be engaged and curious about how this is all going to end. Atticus creates enemies in his own county as he agrees to defend Tom Robinson (a black man). The courtroom scene only elevates Atticus Finch’s character and that’s another aspect of the book that I loved. The children learn to accept that life is not always fair and have to move on.

Final thoughts, it is a book that has some valuable life lessons with beautiful writing and character building true to its time. I can see why it is so loved and it is a book I definitely plan to read again.

Quoting the Reader’s Digest insert summary of  the book:

Over a long, hot summer in the drowsy little town of Maycomb, Alabama, 10-year-old Scout Finch and her brother, Jem , learn a lifetime’s worth of lessons: that the world is full of prejudice and injustice, but that there’s goodness inside everyone. Such is the simple truth that lies at the heart of Harper Lee’s modern master piece, To Kill a Mockingbird

Other quotes from the book that I LOVE,

“Atticus so rarely asked Jem and me to do something for him, I could take being called a coward for him. I felt extremely noble for having remembered, and remained noble for three weeks.” – Scout

“I’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” – Atticus

Rating – ♥♥♥♥♥/ 5

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