Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic of the modern American literature. Having heard only good things about it, I made a wish to receive it as a present from Saint Nicholas … and my wish came true ♥

More than depicting children’s feelings toward unfair attitudes they do not fully understand, the story gives us a glimpse into the Southern U.S.A. society of the 1930s, a society segregated by racial injustice. The plot and characters are based on the author’s observations of her family, her neighbors, and an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old (The Telegraph, 2015).

cover
Book cover. Image from penguin.co.uk

The novel tells the story of Scout, a young girl living in the fictional town of Maycomb (Alabama), in the 1930s. She lives with her father, Atticus Finch (lawyer), and her elder brother, Jem. As Atticus takes the case of a black man accused of raping a white woman, Scout and her brother experience first-hand the racist attitude of the community toward black people. Both children mature a lot during the time period depicted in the story and learn how to react to unfair attitudes they are not accustomed to.

981ab9ffc9d8ea3864f026e769d49299
Image from gemmacorrell.com

The title of the book definitely deserves an explanation 🙂 The metaphor “to kill a mocking bird” is explained early in the book, and refers to hurting someone (or something) who did nothing wrong and does not deserve it:

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (Miss Maudie)

Coming to my personal impression, what I liked about this story was that even though its motif is related to racism and discrimination, there are many funny and childish moments through out the story. For example, the scene when Scout was told by her aunt that she was not dressing appropriately:

“[..] I should be a ray of sunshine in my father’s lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.” (Scout)

Something I did not enjoy as much was the structure of the book, and here I refer to the dispersion of the emotional intensity I felt while reading it. As the first half of the story introduces us to the community and the relationships among the main characters, I felt that something more was needed in order to keep me fully engaged. Only in the second part the tension started to build up, with the final quarter of the book being the most interesting and exciting part of the story.

tkam-relationships
Adapted image from shmoop.com

To Kill a Mockingbird was made into a movie in 1962, for which Gregory Peck (in the role of Atticus) won the Oscar for the Best Actor.

tkam-film-poster
Interesting how movie ads were looking 55 years ago. Image from flashbak.com

Even though it might take you a while to get used to the language used in the book, I fully recommend it to readers of all ages, as there are many lessons to learnt from it. The Finch family does not only teach us the importance of fighting for equality against all odds, but also the important lesson of empathy:

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Atticus)

If you have read this book, what’s your opinion about it? Do you have any recommendations of other books with similar motives?

‘Till next time … happy reading!

Georgiana


PS: An earlier draft of To Kill a Mockingbird was released in 2015 – Go Set a Watchman. It tells the story of the adult Scout Finch who visits her father in Maycomb, where she is confronted with the intolerant community.

PPS: On a similar-ish topic, you can watch the recent movie Hidden Figures (2016), which tells the story of three black women who are mathematicians and work at NASA’s space program. Badass ladies!

Images penguin.co.uk | gemmacorrell.comshmoop.com | flashbak.com |

 

Advertisements

5 thoughts on “Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  1. if you’re looking for a book similar to this, “Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry” is another book that revolves around racial discrimination & black slavery, and it’s told through the eyes of a child so it’s not a too heart-heavy read 😊

    Like

  2. I was planning on reading this book this year, together with some other big names that you find on every book list. I am not sure whether to go for English or Romanian. Oh and I see you’re reading Bloom right now! Can’t wait to see your opinion about it!

    Like

    1. I think reading it in English would be more interesting, as the writer used slang and the dialect of the black community to set the atmosphere. I am not sure whether the Romanian translation would have the same charm of the language style.
      Yes, I am reading Bloom right now! For sure I will write a post about it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s