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To Kill a Mockingbird

A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee published in 1960

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To Kill a Mockingbird

  • Jun 10, 2010
Rating:
+5

If I had to choose five books to take to a desert island, this would be one of the five. One never tires of the story, the characters, and the lessons learned. It was written at the height of civil unrest and eloquently illustrates the need for reform between whites and African Americans.

TKM is a story told through the eyes of a young girl living in the south with her father, brother, negro housekeeper, and for awhile, a difficult aunt. The girl in question is named Scout, her father Atticus is a well respected attorney, and her brother Jem does his best to tolerate her many questions and constant tagging along behind him. This is an unusual family to say the least. The children call their father by his given name and readily acknowledge that as parents go, he is quite unique.

Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robbins, a black man accused of raping a young white girl in the community. The town is divided on the issue of guilt and some endeavor to take matters into their own hands. It is Scout's innocence and sincerity that save Tom and Atticus from what might have been a disastrous outcome.

Due to the controversial aspect of the trial, Scout's aunt is summoned to stay with the children until life can return to normal. The aunt is quite invested in the family's image and to that end often hosts gatherings with church women to make quilts and send money to poor African children-not realizing the attitude they are perpetrating toward their own black community.
 

Calpurnica is the housekeeper who keeps a tidy home and tight rein on the children. She has high expectations for Scout and Jem. She speaks perfect English in their home, but among her black friends she lapses into their dialect. When challenged by Scout to explain the difference, Cal simply states that she wants everyone to feel comfortable.
 

The families in the neighborhood offer their own lessons as well. When Miss Maudie's home burns down she laughs and says it is better to be rid of so much stuff.

Ignorance is a common theme throughout this novel. Ignorance of how to treat blacks, the mentally challenged, the elderly and the infirm, as well as a few commentaries on the state of education.


Harper Lee gave us the gift of holding a mirror up to our own inadequacies and shortcomings. She did it, however, in a most loving and gentle way. To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that should be read and enjoyed by every American as a way of understanding our own journey. After Gregory Peck died, there were many reruns of interviews with him. Upon receiving the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus, he said that this film is the work of which he is most proud. I suspect that Miss Lee must feel the same way. Read it! You won't regret it!

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June 10, 2010
Great review, Pamela, I love this book as well! Hard to believe that it's Harper Lee's only. One of my favorite characters in the book is Boo Radley as I've encountered a few Boo Radleys myself. Thanks so much for sharing :)
 
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More To Kill a Mockingbird (book) reviews
review by . March 09, 2011
Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird revolves around the childhood of Scout and Jem Finch. Scout recalls the most important events of her life in those years: the quiet dignity of her father Atticus, her adventures with Jem and her friend Dill to sneak a peek at Boo Radley, and most of all the trial of Tom Robinson. Atticus must defend the innocent black man from charges of raping a white woman in the Alabama of the 1930's. In one summer, she grows up.    This novel …
review by . June 23, 2010
Harper Lee's novel is an iconic read that you will remember vividly from the day you read it. Set in the South where racism and prejudices still run rampant, the novel mainly focuses on Scout and Boo Radley, characters you are not likely to forget anytime soon. Scout, a rascally young girl, and Boo, her reclusive and mysterious neighbor, force the reader to reexamine their instant reactions and judgments of those they meet.      I first read this book as a high schooler …
review by . June 15, 2010
I was one of very few students in school who loved reading this as an assignment (though truthfully, I liked reading pretty much anything), this is the sort of book you can read over and over again. This book is interesting in that it covered a well addressed topic (racism) in a not so typical way. It really addressed all facets of what it meant to be white AND black in the South during a time when the legal system wasn't fair to blacks.      Reading this the first time …
Quick Tip by . April 12, 2011
While a bit on the plodding side, an important and inspiring read about one man's fight against racism.
review by . June 05, 2010
When I first read To Kill A Mockingbird, I was quite young and lived in the South in a town much like the one in the novel.  Albeit many years later, there was still the same feeling and still the same racism.  What Lee did was hit the very core of many small Southern towns, and in rereading the book a couple of years ago, it still resounds with me.      I also find it interesting that Harper Lee never really wrote another book.  Oh yes, she helped her friend, …
review by . July 21, 2010
I remember having to read this book for the first time my freshman year of high school in english class and being so moved by the story and even today, ten years later, it still stirs up so much emotion for me. Harper Lee's book, To Kill A Mockingbird, is a classic tale that is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was published.  We would like to believe that so much has changed since then and that racial strife has disappeared, but sadly that is still not the case …
review by . June 14, 2010
Although most of us read Harper Lee's classic in high school, this is a must re-read as an adult.There is a reason that this book is extremely popular Lee's writing is so real and exact, it makes the characters come to life. To Kill a Mockingbird is such a quotable book. You will find yourself, once well versed in the story, quoting Atticus Finch along with Scout and others. "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside …
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2010
Written a scant three years before Martin Luther King awed the world with his magnificent "I have a dream" speech, Harper Lee also stunned the world with this poignant story centered on the unconscionable treatment accorded to the black man in USA's Deep South.
Quick Tip by . December 29, 2010
A brilliant and moving novel that will never be forgotten regardless of how many years go by. Beautifully written by a sensitive and observant writer. Perhaps the finest novel about childhood written by someone not named Twain or Joyce.
Quick Tip by . December 11, 2010
Once a very pertinent and controversial book. It has not aged well, and the movie takes more than just a little away from a book already trying desperately to stay relevant. A very noble effort in both medias, but noble efforts of a different era.
About the reviewer

Ranked #1636
Member Since: Jun 10, 2010
Last Login: Jun 10, 2010 11:28 PM UTC
About this book

Wiki

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers, and a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explained the novel's impact by writing, " in the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism."

The primary themes of To Kill a Mockingbird involve racial injustice and the destruction of innocence, but scholars have also noted that Lee addresses the issues of class tensions, courage and compassion, and gender roles in the American Deep South. The book is widely taught in schools in English-speaking countries with lessons that emphasize tolerance and decry prejudice. Despite its themes, To Kill a Mockingbird has been the target of various campaigns to have it removed from public classrooms. Often the book is challenged for its use of racial epithets, and writers have noticed that although white readers react favorably to the novel, black readers tend to respond less positively.

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Tags

Books, Book, Cafe Libri, Fiction, Literature, Classic, Race Relations, Prejudice, Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

Details

ISBN-13: 978-0791075616
Author: Harper Lee
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: J. B. Lippincott & Co.
Date Published: July 11, 1960
Polls with this book
1984 (British first edition)

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