To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 12.25.11 AM
Screen shot 2013-10-25 at 12.25.11 AM

Melanie Harrington Q1

Earth Stream

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Review

Harper Lee’s compelling classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, forever touches the hearts and minds of those who read it. Harper Lee created a thought provoking world that would not soon be forgotten. While the genre may be fiction, the book is anything but. It still remains today to be one of the best books ever written and over 30 million copies have been sold worldwide since its publishing date in July of 1960. Upon it’s release it generated a lot of controversy and uproars among its readers. A few aspects of the book are perceived to have come from Lee’s experiences and life in her hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. To Kill a Mockingbird is the only piece of writing she ever published.  It is amazing how someone’s first and only book turned into a worldwide best seller, won the Pulitzer Prize and several other awards and was adapted into an Oscar Award winning movie. To Kill a Mockingbird is still taught in classrooms across the nation today.

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee developed an interest in writing and literature during her high school years. When she graduated in 1944 she attended the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery. Unlike many of the girls who attended, Lee focused less on fashion and boys and more on her studies and writing. It wasn’t until after she transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa and enrolled in a law program that she took all of her focus away from writing, when she finally confessed to her family that it was her true calling. Soon after, at twenty-three years old, Lee dropped her law studies and moved to New York City to follow her dreams. With the help and financial support from new founded friends, Lee finished her manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird in 1959.

This mind blowing novel follows the life of a family living in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. The world may be changing but Maycomb is in no hurry. Racism and gossip are prevalent in this small town. An innocent black man is put on trial by the word of a white man and Atticus Finch, lawyer and single father of two kids, is put on the case. Atticus faces the scrutiny of the town and his family for openly defending a black man and the choices he makes when raising his children. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch takes us through her early years and the events that all add up to the trial, all the while opening our eyes to the many themes brought up in the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird is not based on any one topic in particular. Every event undergone by Scout and her brother, Jem, bring up a new theme for discussion. Childhood, parenthood, innocence, justice, social norms and racism are a few that recur throughout the novel.  Every theme is interconnected and the transitions are flawless.

Society is ever changing. All of the unspoken rules we abide by without question are created and upheld by society. Face forward in an elevator, not back, bring a gift to the host or hostess, don’t take your shoes off unless you’re at home, call before you show up, fill up the gas tank before you return a borrowed car. We follow these rules every day and don’t even realize it. It just comes naturally to us because it’s the way we were brought up. We watched others do these things and assumed we had to as well.

Society and it’s norms force us to do one of two things. The first is to conform into society’s ideal person. This means following all the rules, spoken and unspoken, following trends in style and technology, making sure that you meet every standard and resemble every other person around you, in every aspect, in order to fit in. The second thing society forces us to do is break away and rebel on our own. This means standing alone, being different, and not following the set rules and guidelines to life.

Throughout the book society has an impact on the way people present themselves. Atticus, the wise and very observant lawyer, sees the flaws in the way society is made up but can not speak up about it because it would be frowned upon greatly. The choices he makes when raising his kids are scrutinized by the entire town and speaking out would only cause more trouble. Scout is in a constant battle of fitting her aunt’s idea of a perfect lady. Even Boo Radley, the town shut in, battles with fitting in on a daily basis. On the other hand, the Ewells, the sleaziest white family in Maycomb, actively rebel against society. The children run wild, they don’t go to school, aren’t polite and collect free money like a shelf collecting dust. They refuse to be a part of the black and white sea that is society and instead prefer to make a sea all of their own.

To Kill a Mockingbird is recommended to anyone looking for a good historical fiction or drama book or someone who is interested in one of the topics listed above. Considering there is some mature content throughout the book it is not recommended that children who are not mature enough to handle it read it. Do not force yourself to read this book if you are uninterested. It will ruin your reading experience. Come back when you grow a little older and see how you like it. You won’t ever regret picking up this book if you do and the life lessons will stay with you forever.

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird

Author: Harper Lee

Publisher: J. B. Lippincott

Date of publication: 1960

Number of pages: 384

Genre: historical fiction, drama, suspense, legal