Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


Jean Louise (Scout) Finch is the feistiest girl in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930's.  She's six years old and doesn't care to be a lady. She wants to wear pants all her life and mess around with her older brother Jem and their friend, Dill, who visits every summer.  To Kill a Mockingbird spans over a couple years of Scout's life, during which she becomes engaged to Dill, attempts to befriend a reclusive neighbor - and, most importantly, witnesses a trial during which a young black man is accused of raping a poor young white girl.  These events are seen from the young, questioning eyes of a little girl who wants to understand.  It is heart-breaking, eye-opening, and a book that everyone should take the time to devour.

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My thoughts -
This is my first time reading To Kill a Mockingbird (people have looked at me, shocked, for saying that), and not only can I say that I've read it, but I can also say that I loved it.

I was quite moved by this story.  Moved to laughter, moved to sorrow, moved to anger, moved to love.  I was inspired by this little girl Jean Louise who saw the world so innocently.  I wanted to be like her.  I want to be like her.  She was precious to read about.

Character notes -
Scout Finch has a sarcasm that's hard to miss.  It adds life to the story and made me laugh.  She's one smart little seven-year-old.  She understands most things - and when she doesn't she asks questions.  Questions that made me think.  Questions that seven-year-olds now would never think to ask.  Scout is also a deep thinker, pondering the world in that innocent light that she views everything.

She loves her family.  She has a heart for her brother...wants to do everything to be like him.  When he starts to grow up, she doesn't understand it, but she tries her hardest.  Because she loves him.
And she loves her father, too.  Oh boy, their relationship tugged at my heart more than anything else in this story.  Atticus Finch is older, has no wife, and would be lonely but for his lovely children.  Scout and Jem mean everything him, and he means everything to them, even when they would like to say otherwise.  Atticus very easily became my favorite character - for his bravery, his selflessness, his humility, and his desire to do what is right...at all costs.

Story notes -
This story is well told from the first word to the last.  It weaves in family troubles, characters being built, the culture in the south in that time of history, the town's trials and triumphs, strange neighbors, unlikely friends...  All of this is seen through the eyes of an observant six/seven/eight year old, and I can't imagine it any other way.  It was the perfect touch for the story's progression.

Speaking of the progression...it was slow.  But not in an "I'm bored, please get me out of here" way, but in a languid, beautiful, floating way.  It was a current, slow and constant, and it pulled me along until we reached the shore, where I sat, watching the tide drifting away, knowing that I would never forget that experience.

When I first started reading this book, I expected it to be mainly about the rape trial.  While I was at first confused that it wasn't, I couldn't stay confused for long.  The depth and intense character development in the rest of the story led up to the trial and its outcome - and even events after the trial.

One word I'd use to sum up this novel (final thoughts) -
Eager.  Because while the whole town is languid, underneath the surface a passion is stirring - and it is seen in Atticus and his bravery; Miss Maudie and her garden; Jem and his desire to be like his father; Tom Robinson and his innocent friendship with the poor white girl; and little Scout, who cannot get enough of her world, and who won't let it fly by without having a word or two with it.  This really is one exceptional story.

2 comments:

  1. Can you believe that I've not read this book? I've been wanting to read it, but always forget to get it when ordering books online. So far, I've not seen it at the bookstores here, perhaps because it is an "old" book.

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  2. I read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD in I think year/grade 9 (or 10). I loved it. I won a copy of the 50th anniversary edition HC a few years ago and it's still sitting on my shelves. I really want to give it a re-read soon! It does progress at a fairly slow pace, but it was the good kind of slow. This book is very character-driven and really places you in the setting. You explained it all so well. :)

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