Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Bookdepository
Read in June, 2009
Summary: Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the Deep South defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.
“Do not judge the book by its cover” can actually apply to me in this case. At first I thought To Kill A Mockingbird would be a dull, boring book about racism that I did not want to know about. I was (and still am) one of those people who fall for books simply because of their covers. But now I know better. I was mistaken about this book but now I can honestly say that To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the finest books I have ever read.
In 11th grade, my English teacher assigned us to read this book, then we'd have class discussions, tests, and writing assignments, and we'd see the movie together. Mr Bill, the teacher, who is a really cool and nice guy, said the book was intense, and promised us that we would enjoy it very much. At that time, I was around 15-16 years old, still a huge fan of teen books, had never read any classics before. I remember having secretly protested this assignment with my classmate, agreeing that we would rather be reading Twilight instead.
(Oh God, why did we ever think that? I took it all back!). But who would have known? When I got to page 3 or 4, I got hugely hooked up. I could never have thought this book could be so fascinating that I could not possibly put it down until midnight of every day. And before I knew it, To Kill A Mockingbird showed up somewhere between the top 5 of my favorite books.
I love pretty much everything about this book. I love the way Harper Lee reveals more of the story backwards from the end. It portrayed racism at its time and the white people’s hatred and prejudice on the black ones at its best. Meanwhile, it represented many kinds of people; the poor Cunninghams, the Ewells who lived by the rubbish dump of the town, the Radleys who were full of mysteries and the Finches. I am not usually a fan of books with too many characters, but this book is an exception. I think these characters are what make the book one of the best classics ever. It is what makes the book different, makes it beautiful and outstanding.
I love the fact that To Kill A Mockingbird depicts the co-existence of good and evil really well. As I could see, Jem and Scout both go through a transition in the society as they are exposed to more evil--a transition of innocence that must be adapted to the evil of the world to be more of an adult perspective. Other than that, what I adore about this book is that it shows the result of co-existence of good and evil as some people are destroyed by the glimpse of evil such as Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, Dill and Jem, or as defined by the books as ‘mockingbirds’ who ‘don't do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us,’ (according to Miss Maudie) while some still maintain their faith in goodness and learn to be able to come to understand and deal with evil like Atticus Finch and his daughter Scout.
My favorite character from this book would definitely be Atticus Finch. He comes so clear and real to me, but at the same time he just seems so idealistic. He's definitely the most outstanding character in this novel, as his characteristics and points of view uniquely shine through. He accepts and understands evil in people, all the while he still maintains and holds on to his faith in human goodness. Throughout the novel, he taught me that we should appreciate the good in people, understand the bad and treat others with understanding and sympathy. When he tells his children that they could never understand a person until they put on his shoes and walk around in it, I was stunned. There was no better way to put it. And at the end Scout does as his lesson told her. She finally sees Boo as a human being, and not a childhood mystery. I love the way Atticus stands for what was right--Tom Robinson--knowing in his heart that he may not win the case. And when Walter Cunningham tries to kill him, he still says Cunningham was a friend and would always be. For a second I wondered if a person like this still exists in this world today because as I’ve stated, he's so real, yet so idealistic, too good to be true.
Overall, I think this book is for the win. I am not surprised why it's assigned to high school students in many countries. Books like these should be noticed by the world, because there is even more to them than just an enjoyable read. To Kill A Mockingbird is definitely one of my favorite books that I will always reread.
This review is also posted on Goodreads.