To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harper Lee's acclaimed novel, To Kill A Mockingbird has long been considered one of the top books in American literature. I still remember reading the novel during my freshmen year of high school. While some of the themes may have gone over my head, I was immediately attracted to the style of Lee's writing and have always held the book in high regard. The famously reclusive author was recently thrust back into the spotlight when it was announced that her long lost manuscript, Go Set A Watchman, would be published. There continues to be quite a bit of confusion and controversy surrounding the discovery and release of this fifty-year-old story, but I knew that I would be reading it. With this new work, I decided to revisit To Kill A Mockingbird as well.

Immediately, Lee's prose transports readers to a simpler time. Through her juvenile protagonist, Scout, Lee documents a coming of age story that dares to tackle racism, ignorance, and justice. Mockingbird is set in Maycomb, Alabama, a picturesque little town, during the 1930's. Scout spends her summer days playing with her older brother Jem and their friend Dill. The trio has a particular interest in their mysteriously reclusive neighbor Boo Radley. Maycomb lore tells cautionary tales against disturbing Boo, but Scout and her gang are determined to sneak up to his house and catch a glimpse of him.

Amongst the vignettes of Scout's childhood games and experiences emerges a larger narrative thread that involves her father Atticus. Atticus Finch stands as a shining literary example of what a father is and should aspire to be. His wife died during childbirth, so he has taken to raising his children on his own. As a father and the local town lawyer, Atticus becomes the moral compass for his family and the local justice system. When Tom Robinson, an African-American man, is accused of raping a local woman, Atticus volunteers to defend him. A riveting trial ensues, and Scout begins to witness the ways in which her family and town react to the racially charged proceedings.

It is almost impossible to write an objective review of this classic. Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird were placed upon a literary pedestal long before I cracked the spine of this novel. But there is something to be said for the profound effect that this story has on those who read it. Through a lyrically southern voice that instantly captivates your imagination, Lee provides an idyllic tale of innocence that is both nostalgic and equally timely. She writes of the values and integrity and we all aspire to achieve. Justice, understanding, acceptance, faith, perseverance, all are explored through the plainspoken words of a child. Whatever your opinion of the recently released manuscript, the simplicity and beauty of this original novel makes for a deeply moving experience and a quintessential work of American literature.

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(2015, 28)

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4 Responses to “To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee”

  1. This book really seems to provide a good knowledge of human values. I would like to read the book in the near future.

    1. This is one of those classic novels that everyone should read!

  2. I can really tell that you admired this book for what message it can bring to all who read it. I have read this one myself as well, and all those themes you brought across were shown so well in the book. I did like it, but I couldn't love it as many do because at times I found it to be a bit slow paced, if I am honest.

    1. I wonder how much of my admiration comes from being American? Are there certain books that are seen as essential British reading?


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