Thursday 18 March 2010

To Kill A Mockingbird by Haper Lee

As you all know, my winnebago has firmly arrived on the soils of Alabama. My American journey has begun and what a wonderful first stop I have made. I will probably stay in Alabama for a couple of months as, it is treating me well.

Pages - 307

First published in the UK in 1960. Republished in 2004 by Vintage

Challenges - American Journey, Young Adult and Support Your Local Library Challenge

The Radley Place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water, but drew him no nearer than the light-pole on the corne, a safe distance from the Radley gate. There he would stand, his arm around the fat pole, staring and wondering.

Every so often a book lands in your hands which has charmed its audience for many years and once you have read it you sit and wonder why you never listened to all the voices telling you to read it in the first place. That is how I feel about To Kill a Mockingbird. I was convinced that I wouldn't like it, I had put it in the same bracket at The Catcher in the Rye and thought it would bore me to tears. I am so glad I was wrong.

For anyone on Earth who hasn't read this book yet or has never seen the film, this is a brief summary of the story. The book is written from the viewpoint of Scout, a young girl whose life is turned upside down when her father who is a lawyer, takes on a case to defend a man of colour who has been charged with the rape of a white girl. The book is set in Alabama during the 1930's where people of colour were still treated as second class citizens. When Atticus defends the man, he puts his family at risk of harm as the some of the town react with uproar.

There is a sub plot within the book that looks at Scout and her brother Jem fascination with Boo Radley. A man that lives along there street, but that no one has seen for years.

I felt that with the book being written from the point of view of Scout, it lessened the harshness of dealing with such subjects as rape and racism. Your saw all these things through Scout's eyes and as she wasn't quite aware of what these things meant, it really lessened the blow.

I felt that one of the main themes of this book was dealing with fear, learning to cope with the unknown that came in the guise of change. In Scout's life, she had built up this illusion of what Boo Radley might be like and had literally scared herself silly, yet when she finally meets him, she realises he is just another human being with baggage like everyone else. Within the trial, the town folk and the people watching the trial are frightened what will happen if the accused got away with rape, when it was quite evident that he did not commit the crime. Yet their world would change as a person of colour had yet to be found not guilty within the eyes of the law.

I loved Scout, for her age she was bright and courageous. She had a tomboy streak about her that would have been seen as shocking in those days, when you were supposed to act like a little lady. Her relationship with her father, Atticus, was thoroughly modern. They spent time together, enjoying each other's company and were honest and open with each other. Atticus gave his children a lot of freedom, which was frowned upon by others.

All through the book, I was looking for the connection with the mockingbird, imagining it had a great role within the story, yet it was more a symbol than a storyline. Mockingbirds are harmless birds, who have never taken anything or hurt anyone, they are innocent within the bird world and do not cause any trouble, just sing beautiful songs, so to kill one would be wrong. Tom, the accused, is innocent within the book, so his treatment by white people is wrong, because all he ever did was help others. Boo Radley is also an innocent within the book, the children want to mock him to begin with, but then they realise he just wants to be left alone to get on with his life, he hasn't done anything wrong.

I absolutely loved this book and feel ashamed it took me so long to read it. It is a beautiful coming of age story which brings the reality of slavery through the eyes of the young.

If you haven't ever read it, then I strongly suggest you do.


  1. I only read it for the first time three years ago, and yes, I also wondered why I hadn't listened sooner :P I'm so glad you loved it too!

  2. I read To Kill A Mockingbird last year and I absolutely loved it. I think it is my favorite book! Your review made me want to read the book all over again, and I almost never read a book twice. So that says something about how much I enjoyed reading it.

    Harper Lee has got a real talent for writing and I was so sad when I discovered that this was her only novel.

    Did you know that the character Dill was based on Trueman Capote?

  3. I also only read this book a few years ago and, if I'm being honest, didn't know what all the hype was about. I just didn't understand why everyone raved about it. Perhaps a re-reading is in order.

  4. Goodness it's been so long since I read this, at least 15 years. I definitely should revisit. I was too young at the time to get the full impact of the book, I know.

  5. I know this is a classic that everyone should read, but I still haven't read it. Now, with your wonderful review, I think that I will read it in the near future.

  6. Yes I have not read it, I really must one day

  7. I love this book too and think the movie is great as well.

  8. I've read this 3 or 4 times and I don't know how often I've seen the movie. Love this story. It's beautifully told and just ... wonderful! Great review!

  9. One of my favorites of all time. I did not read it until I was an adult and was homeschooling my oldest 2 kids. It is assigned reading from mom in this house, for sure.
    So glad you liked it...
    *smiles and enjoy your stay in Alabama* :)

  10. I absolutely adore this book. It's one of my all-time favourites. What's not to love? An ex-boyfriend of mine was reading this when we first got together. After he finished, he wanted to watch the film. I absolutely loved the film so immediately stole the book from him to read. You can definitely see why it's a classic. Love it.

  11. Ohmigosh, I just read this again, too! My review will go up next week, but yours is far more eloquent than mine. Mine is really gushy and somewhat ridiculous. I LOVE this book!

  12. So glad you enjoyed it Vivienne!! I just read it for the first time a couple of years ago! And I was so glad that I did. Really enjoyed it. Wouldn't list it as one of my favs of all times, but still really good!

  13. I've never read the book or seen the film. I will definitely rectify that after seeing this review :)

  14. Nymeth - I am finally learning to listen to those voices. Though does that make me insane!

    Ladybug - no I didn't know that Dill was based on Truman Capote, how fabulous. I want to know more about it now. I can't believe someone so talented only wrote one book too.

    Petty Witter - what didn't you get when you read it last time? I found it quite an easy read and I could see why it was a good book to be read at school. I found that it was looking at serious issues but from a gentler point of view, due to Scout's age.

    Amanda - you must, you must!

    Mary - the movie is a must for me now. I need to compare.

    Andreea - now I would have thought you would have read this one. I don't know why.

    Blodeuedd - you must!

    Bermudaonion - I must see the film.

    Caitlin - thank you.

    Kim - now that is assigned reading I wouldn't mind. I couldn't have read The Catcher In the Rye as assigned reading.

    Ceri - it is a fantastic book and definitely one I would read again.

    Aarti - freaky! I am sure your review will be fantastic. I am always in awe of your wonderful reviews.

    Chris - I am glad to hear you loved it too.

    Carmen - it is a beautiful book.

  15. I believe that actually quite a few of the elements of the story is based on actually happenings and people from Harper Lees own childhood. Capote and Lee where childhood friends, Lee also accompanied Capote on his trip doing researching for his book "In Cold Blood".

  16. Ladybug - oh wow. How did you know all this? Is there a book about it? I must read more.

  17. I just did a little Google researching after I'd finished reading Harper Lee's book :)

  18. I love the film and MUST get around to reading the book. There's something so warm hearted sounding about it! Brilliant review!

  19. I love this book too, but I haven't read it since high school. The movie was also very good.

  20. First I just gotta say that I love your personal challenge & button. How cool is that.

    Now the book... It took me a long time to read To Kill A Mockingbird too. I never read it in high school or college which seems so weird to me but there you go. I loved it too and one of these days I should read it again. Oh and I still would like to see the film too.

  21. I read this book for the first time a few years ago and loved! It's now one of my favorite books. I'm happy you read it and loved it too.

  22. I read this a few years ago also and loved it! I'm glad you felt the same way. :D

  23. I saw this in play format a couple years ago and so haven't read the book but perhaps I will - the play was REALLY good.

  24. This is one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it twice and still want to listen to it on audio. Even watched the movie from the library. I'm glad you loved it as well.

  25. :D I am so happy you read this, Vivienne! Isn't it just quite the special book? One of my favorites, for sure.
    Hope you enjoy your tour of the states! You'd better stop in when you get to upstate New York! ;)

  26. I'm so glad you read this, Vivienne! Isn't it simply wonderful?!! One of my all-time favorites. :D

    And I hope your enjoy your tour of the'd better stop by when you get to upstate New York. ;)

  27. Okay Vivienne, I'm an idiot. :) Sorry about double/triple commenting...I missed that you had comment moderation on, and thought I'd screwed something up so I commented again. Doh.


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