Friday, April 6, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird

Author:  Harper Lee
Year:  1960
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing

So this is one of those books that I was supposed to read in high school but I never was in an English class that got assigned this book. I also never had to read it as an English major in college. Somehow I just missed it; but something always made me feel like it was a book that I needed to go back and read.

It takes place in Alabama in that period of time before segregation when feelings were harsh between the whites and the blacks in the South and there were definite class lines drawn even if they weren't supposed to be there. The story is told from the point-of-view of Scout - the daughter of Atticus Finch who just happens be one of the county's most honorable lawyers. Mr. Finch is appointed by the court to represent a black man accused of raping a white girl. Never mind that Finch's client is innocent. This is the time when who is right and who is wrong comes down to the color of a person's skin. Scout watches her father struggle with the trial and doing what is right no matter how  hard it is. She sees the injustice in what is wrong and in her child's mind can't understand the reasons people act the way they do.

I loved this book. It is definitely at the top of my list. I've lived my entire life in the South and I think I've met a number of the people in this book. I could recognize the people who only see the color of the skin, the people that know what's right but are too afraid to do anything about it and I even know a few people like Atticus Finch. I think Harper Lee's writing is magnificent. I had expected all the heart-wrenching parts of the story but what I didn't foresee was the humor. Lee is hilarious. When I finished the book, I happened to glance back at the first chapters and was completely blown away at how nicely Lee wrapped everything up from beginning to end and tied a pretty red bow on it. I'm glad I didn't read this book in high school, or college even, and came to it as an adult. I think that the book meant a lot more to me now that I have years of life in the "real world" under my belt than it would have as a teenager.

"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 you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." (pg. 149)
"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." (pg. 23)


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