Friday, July 30, 2010

Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

Summary: Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the Deep South defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl.

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century. -- Harper Perennial Modern Classics

You might not know this about me, but TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee is my all-time favorite book. I have read it many, many times and it never loses its magic as far as I'm concerned. When I realized a few weeks ago that it was the 50th anniversary of this classic, I decided to drop everything and just read it. Good thing the anniversary happened to fall on a Sunday because I was able to just hide myself away and enjoy this magnificent book!

I truly believe TKAM is one of the best books ever written (for many reasons); and as a result, who am I to really "review" it? Not only do I feel that I can't add anything to the thousands of people who have already written great reviews about this novel, but I honestly don't feel like I am really worthy of judging a book of this caliber. So, even though I titled this post as a review, it's really more of a celebration of my all-time favorite story.

As I mentioned earlier, I have read TKAM quite a few times beginning when I was in high school. I immediately fell in love with the characters and the story, and as soon as I read the last page, I started all over on page 1. I also saw the movie for the first time when I was in high school. I loved the film adaptation of TKAM (although movies are never as good as the book -- except maybe Godfather I), and that began my love affair with Atticus Finch and Gregory Peck!

I have read TKAM many times since high school including once for my book club a few years ago, and I am just amazed that I love the book more each time I read it. I find it a little strange that I can read TKAM over and over again because I rarely re-read books -- why re-read when there are so many great books that I haven't read yet? What is even more incredible to me is that each time I read TKAM, I discover something new. It's almost as if a different theme (or themes) jump out and resonate with me depending on where I am in my life. I guess that's one of the beautiful things about this novel -- that it is able to speak so many different things to each person who reads it.

And the characters....where to even begin? Of course, I adore Scout -- she truly is one of my favorite characters, if not my favorite character, in fiction. I love how Ms. Lee managed to capture Scout's innocence while at the same time portraying her with so much maturity and wisdom. However, Atticus is also am amazing character! I hold Atticus up as the ideal man and father, and I loved his courage for standing up for what's right. This last time I read TKAM, I also found myself really appreciating some of the secondary characters like the sheriff and Jem. And what more can I say about Boo Radley? -- my heart has always gone out to him!

As I grow older, I think I appreciate Harper Lee more and more. Part of me is sad that she hasn't written another novel, but the other (and bigger) part of me is so glad. How can you follow-up the greatest book ever???? I can't rave enough about how beautiful her writing is -- every word seems to be there for a particular reason. She captures the essence of Scout's character perfectly, and she also brings to life a small Southern town like few other authors can. I absolutely love that this novel makes me think each and every time I read it, and I believe that the ending of TKAM is one of the best I've ever read.

I could go on and on about all of the amazing themes in TKAM; and as I said earlier, different ones stand out to me each time I read this novel. Of course, some of the obvious themes have to do with prejudice and justice; however, there are also many other themes including friendship, parental love, forgiveness, redemption, courage, patience, right vs. wrong, and loss of innocence to name just a few. There is a reader's guide available, but I truly think it only hits the tip of the iceberg!

I'm sure I've probably bored you to death gushing about TKAM, but I really wanted to do my part (even if it's small) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this amazing novel. If you haven't ever read TKAM, then you are sure missing out and you need to do it now. And if you have read it, it's probably time for a re-read. There are few books out there that will leave such a lasting impact on a reader -- it truly is a gem of a novel!


Terri said...

Fantastic review! I completely agree with everything you said! And now I may have to pick it up and read it again. Wuthering Heights is nice, Pride and Prejudice, sure, but To Kill a Mockingbird is, in my opinion, the best fiction ever written.

bermudaonion said...

You won't believe this about me, but I didn't read To Kill a Mockingbird until after I was married and I only read it then because Carl insisted I watch the movie with him. Since I saw the movie first, Gregory Peck has always been Atticus in my mind. To make it even better, we lived in Alabama when I read the book.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I have to read this soon. I have always loved the movie!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I wish I had had the opportunity to read this in high school with proper instruction and discussion. I actually only read it for the first time last year, via audiobook (which is a total masterpiece), and I said the same thing. Why even try to review such a thing? Better to just gush.

Anonymous said...

I only just finished this one last week. I absolutely loved it and though I wish I'd discovered it a long time ago, I'm not sure I would have appreciated it as much as I do now. I hope to post a review of it today, but it's still hard to put my thoughts into words.

Just Mom said...

This is on my list of books that I am ashamed not to have read yet. Your review just reinforces that I need to get to it!

Marce said...

You couldn't ask for a better post, you did it justice and what a great way to celebrate.

I read the classic for the first time this month for the anniverary.

Here is my post if interested. I found you from Heathers blog.

Anonymous said...

This is one of my favorite books too, although I didn't read it well into adulthood. We rescued a cat right after and named her SCout :)