This, this right here is the reason why I am so against abandoning books because, honestly, I probably would have given up on To Kill a Mockingbird had it not been summer required reading for my freshman year of high school. I know — blasphemy! It’s a book that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, it’s one of the most challenged books of all time, and one Yann Martel sent to Stephen Harper, the current Canadian Prime Minster.
Despite all this praise, To Kill a Mockingbird also starts out very dry making it a struggle to trudge through the first few chapters. And then I got the crime and court case, the central plot of the novel. Forget Scout wanting to be like her older brother, Jem, their adventures with Dill, a boy visiting the small town of Maycomb, or even their relationship with the reclusive Arthur “Boo Radley, although that storyline still plays a part in why I like To Kill a Mockingbird so much. It’s the character of Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s father, and his attempt to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman, that really catapulted this novel into adoration for me.
A accurate account of race relations in America during the Great Depression (and an incident that continues to find a place in the American justice system), To Kill a Mockingbird deserves a place in the shelves of great American literature. I love how the story is consistently told through the eyes of a six to nine-year-old girl; we learn things at the same pace and in the same manner as Scout does. It’s jumpy and at times juvenile because that’s who our narrator is.
Looking back now, the dry beginning serves as an introduction to the Southern lifestyle — meandering, simple, slow — and really sets the stage. Without Scout’s adventures with Jem and Dill and her attempts to understand the misunderstood Boo, we would never realize how powerful Atticus standing up to injustice and Scout’s new understanding of the world is.
- Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central, 1988. Originally Published 1960. Print. 281 pgs. ISBN: 9780446310789. Source: Purchased.