Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Date Finished: 20/07/12

Re-Read? : Third time read

Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics

Overall: 5/5 – absolutely brilliant

As many of you may know, To Kill a Mockingbird is my favourite book!  I first read it back in 2010 when we studied it in school (and I fell in love with it), then when it came to exams in summer 2011 I re-read it again and listened to the audiobook countless times.  I have to say it was a pleasure to study.  I usually aim to leave at least 18 months before I even think about re-reading a book, but I made an exception for this special book.  My sister had spilt ink and doodled in my original copy so I had bought another copy (a very nice Vintage Classics edition that you can see to the right) and I was very excited to read it.

The plot in To Kill a Mockingbird is really fantastic and it is a very well thought-out story.  The pace seems the perfect balance of a very slow old town with the exciting adventures of Scout, Jem and Dill.  The first volume deals with the children playing infantile games and just generally being kids.  This is when they try to make Boo Radley come out.
The second volume depicts a more grown up Jem, even though Scout says ‘He ain’t that old.  All he needs is somebody to beat him up and I ain’t big enough‘ which I think is just brilliant.  This is when Scout and Jem have to cope with Atticus, their father defending a black person in racist 30s Alabama.

The symbolism in TKAMB is stunning.  There are so many motifs and themes.  The main ‘Mockingbird’ motif covers many characters, such as Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, even Mayella Ewell to an extent.  Also there are the strong themes of sexism (which Scout has to contend with), prejudice, racism, courage (notably Mrs Dubose), justice/injustice and many more.  I think it is a book that people can learn so much from.

In terms of characters, I think TKAMB is easily on a par with Dickens – the characters are sublime!  Each resident of Maycomb is so unique and interesting, you can never get bored whilst reading.  There is wise Miss Maudie, gossiping Miss Crawford, firm-but-fair Calpurnia all supporting the main characters.  I could write whole posts on each character individually! (Don’t worry, I won’t!)

I love Harper Lee’s prose and the way she uses Scout’s voice as the narrator makes the book have such a massive impact on you – a child can see what is wrong so why can’t the adults?  This aspect is so powerful, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t be moved by it.
Also, the setting is really interesting, as we’ve all heard stories about how racism was still in full flow not long ago, but this makes it real.  We can see for ourselves the awful conditions and treatment black people had to suffer.  One of my favourite quotations from the book reflects this: ‘the hell white people give coloured folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people, too‘.  Some of the events in this book really bring that quotation to life.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough: I think EVERYONE should read it.  Ok, I may be a little very biased, but this book has so much to say, and says it so well, that you absolutely have to read it.  Even aside from the books political/historical/social significance, it is still an amazing story with amazing characters, so what is not to love?