Thursday, 20 October 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Original Publication Date: 1960
My Version Published By: Arrow Books, 2006
Pages: 309
Source: Book club borrowed
Genre: Classics, Literary Fiction
Goodreads | |

It's pretty incredible to think that this is one of the all time classic novels and yet I actually knew nothing about it. How is that possible? Well for starters it was never assigned at school which seems to be when most read it. But beyond that I think it's one of those things that you hear so often the name becomes so common place that you get lulled into a sense of familiarity, until one day you start a blog, decide to do a 100 book challenge and come to the startling realisation that not only have you never read the book, but you have no clue what's it's even about! Cue embarrassment and a good self-chastising by yours truly. So with all that being said I'm going to be giving a bit more of an in-depth review on this one. Usually I try to keep the suspense for the many who haven't read it but lets be honest, there are probably very few people who read this blog who haven't read it so why not throw a bit more discussion into this one. But don't worry if by some miracle there is someone else out there who is in the same boat as me then I won't be giving any major spoilers away.

To Kill a Mockingbird was a story of love and acceptance narrated by a young girl living in 1930s America. I loved Scout's approach to life. She didn't want to conform to societies expectation that she start behaving like a lady. Oh no, she wanted to play with the boys. She wasn't any different to them in her eyes. I loathe to call her a tom-boy because I think it was more than that. She wanted to be equal. She would stand up for herself and wouldn't let anyone tell her what to do. I really admired her as a character because of that.

I found it incredible to explore the relationship she had with her father, Atticus. He spoke to his children like adults, always being open and honest in all opportunities and yet he nurtured their child mind by allowing them to be and think and feel the way they needed to. He is an incredible role model as a parent and I think that is portrayed really well in the book.

The main premise of the book is the story of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman who Atticus is defending. It is all told from the perspective of Scout which of course lends a really unique story-telling approach. You get to see everything almost third hand as she tries to make sense of everything that is going on - from people saying mean things about her father for defending him, to the courtroom where it is all clear cut for the children and they can't possible fathom why he wouldn't be let off. This story is the centre of the book however there is so much more and you really need all these interchanging stories to provide the whole. This book is more than just a book about race relations but is a book about love, acceptance and friendship.

I think one of the most endearing parts of the book in terms of Scout's character is how she believes she can get out of going to school by swearing incessantly, thinking the adults would believe she had picked it up from school and would remove her. School didn't suit her as she had to conform to their requirements. She was told off because she could already read, having been taught by her father, and her teacher was furious saying she'd have to re-teach her the correct way. Um... what? It really went a long way to showing how Scout fought against things that didn't make sense. I can imagine that the author put a lot of herself into this character.

But certainly my favourite part of the whole book is the kids relationship with Boo Radley. Boo Radley is the mysterious man down the street who all the kids are scared of as he never leaves his parents house. Most of the neighborhood children are too scared to even walk past his house thinking he has become some kind of monster but Scout and her brother are too defiant for that and over time they become more and more daring. They were the best parts of the book I thought.

Overall it was a great book and I can see why so many people have it as one of their favourites. I also think it is a brilliant book to study in school thanks to so many of the underlying themes prevalent in the book, not to mention the unique narration. However, I'm not entirely sure why, but the book hasn't jumped to the top of my favourites list. Yes I enjoyed it and think it's a wonderful book, but for some reason I didn't fall in love with it. But needless to say this is still a must read and I'm incredibly thankful I was finally able to.

To Kill a Mocking-bird was read as part of my 100 book challenge of must read novels.

(18 read. 82 to go!).

Order from

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery