To Kill A Mockingbird – Book Review

“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.” – From To Kill A Mockingbird, page 103 –

What can I say about To Kill A Mockingbird that hasn’t already been said a million times? Harper Lee’s beautiful novel set in the sleepy county of Macomb, Alabama in the 1930s defines the adage ‘still waters run deep.’  Scout Finch, a vibrant, curious tomboy narrates the story  which spans a period of nearly three years beginning when she is six years old. The cast of characters is vast and enjoyable. From Atticus Finch (Scout’s father who is a man of decency and honesty), to Jem Fitch (Scout’s brother, striving to follow his father’s example), to Dill (Jem and Scout’s summertime companion who embodies a sense of adventure and mischief), to Tom Robinson (the black man falsely accused of rape), to Miss Maudie (Scout’s next door neighbor with a heart of gold and the best cake in the country), and finally to Boo Radley (the mysterious next door neighbor who hasn’t been seen in twenty-five years), Lee weaves a tale that latches onto the reader and never lets go.

Lee doesn’t restrict herself to merely telling a story. She includes astounding insight into the roots of racism and the idea that one man’s courage to stand up against inequality may be all that’s needed to begin to shatter the beliefs that sustain hatred.

Perhaps what is so inviting about this novel is that its narrator is only a child. Scout Finch brings to the book an innocence and perception which only children share. Her reflections, void of the internal restraints that inhibit adults, bring a truthfulness to the novel that resonates with the reader.

This is a book I will read again…and again. It is a timeless classic, beautifully written and one I highly recommend.

Favorite Passages

About Courage:  I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. – From To Kill A Mockingbird, page 128 –

About The Love of Reading: Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. -From To Kill A Mockingbird, page 20-

About Racism: If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? -From To Kill A Mockingbird, page 259-

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16 comments

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    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 16:04

    Wendy, I knew you would love it!
    That line where she likens reading to breathing is one of my all-time favorite quotes from a book.
    Did you know that Dill was based on Truman Capote as a little boy? Apparently, he and Harper Lee grew up together.

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 16:19

    I had no idea that character was based on Capote! Wow! Thanks for the little ‘factoid’ *grin* Yes, I love, love, love that quote. Only a true bibliophile would ‘get’ it!

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 16:57

    Yay! My all time favorite book…why, oh, why did Harper Lee not write anymore books??? It is a question I will always ask myself, but I am so glad that we at least got this one perfect story from her. I have read it at least a dozen times in my life…I am so glad you like it, too :0)

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 17:08

    I know what you mean, Kim. I wonder why she never wrote another novel!?!? Whenever I read a novel I love, I want to go out and buy everything that particular author has ever written.

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 18:56

    Glad you loved it. It’s one of my favorites. It is hard to believe it is her only book. I like to think that she has some hidden away that someone will find after her death.

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 22:29

    Welcome to the fan club. I always recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. It’s so lyrical and lovely.

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 22:48

    Michelle – what a wonderful thought…wouldn’t it be GREAT if another novel of hers materialized!?!
    Cheryl – definitely a keeper!

    • Anonymous on March 21, 2007 at 22:48

    That was not “anonymous” … it was ME!

    • Anonymous on March 22, 2007 at 02:15

    One of my all-time favorites as well. Such wonderful writing and such a gripping story!
    I’m so glad I’ve discovered your blog.

    • Anonymous on March 22, 2007 at 10:41

    Thanks for your kind words! Glad to have you here 🙂

    • Anonymous on March 23, 2007 at 11:28

    You make me want to read this one again. It’s been too long since I last picked it up. It’s a powerful story.

    • Anonymous on April 4, 2007 at 15:22

    I will be reading this book after my current read. Having read your review, I can’t wait to get started!
    Diane

    • Anonymous on April 5, 2007 at 11:23

    I listened to the audiobook this summer. Sissy Spacek was the perfect narrator – the soft, slight Southern accent and the slower pacing of her narration made all the difference to this New Yorker. I would have rushed through the book! Instead, I was drawn into its real pacing.
    Amazing book. I shall read it over and over!

    • Anonymous on July 8, 2007 at 20:45

    Truman and Nelle (what Harper Lee’s friends in Monroeville call her) spent several years growing up next door to each other, just off the town square. Truman’s mother, Lillie Mae, had divorced his father (Arch Persons; Persons was Capote’s birth name) and remarried a man named Joe Capote. She left Truman with some elderly cousins in Monroeville for several years, and his life there was the basis for parts of many of his novels, including Other Voices, Other Rooms and The Grass Harp. I lived and worked at the museum there for two years, and had the opportunity to see her out and about a few times. I also have a letter from her that’s one of my prized possessions.
    If you’re interested in learning more about her childhood and friendship with Capote, let me recommend either Gerald Clarke’s great biography, Capote, and George Plimpton’s biography, Truman Capote: In Which Various Friends, Enemies, and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career. The title of the second is a mouthfull, but it’s one of which I’m particularly proud since I was privileged to be both a research assistant and contributor to that book.
    Sorry — this is a perfect example of TMI!

    • Anonymous on July 9, 2007 at 09:13

    Wow, Matt – thanks for the recommendations and background! I have put these books on my wish list 🙂

    • Anonymous on January 24, 2008 at 13:09

    I think everyone one should read this book, regardless of their values and beliefs. It is so compelling, designed to get people to think and act – not to live life submissively but to become more assertive to stand up for what a person believed in.
    The story creates such emotion that is so gripping!

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