I remember reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee in school and wondering what the big deal was. It was a book and it was okay. It didn’t blow me away. At least not when I first read it. When “To Kill a Mockingbird” was chosen as the Wall Street Journal’s Book Club pick this summer I had the perfect excuse to pick up the classic tale as an adult and give it another go. I have to say – I totally get it. The second time around you just have such a better appreciation of the time that Harper Lee was able to grasp in the novel, and the way she was able to capture the challenges a white lawyer would face representing a black guy that had been accused of raping a white girl in an otherwise quiet southern town. And the way that the book was told through a child’s eye – that just gave such an amazing touch to her novel. It is no wonder “To Kill a Mockingbird” is such a classic.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” takes place during the summer when Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, which Scout remembers as the summer that Dill wanted to try to make Boo Radley come out of his house. “People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, pg 5/6) I liked this quote. It sets the time period well without going into too much detail. It gives the reader a good foundation of the feel of Maycomb County.
I really enjoyed how Harper Lee wrote from Scout’s perspective. She’s insightful for a child, but also has the occasional philosophical moment where her logic is clearly that of a child. “Mr. Avery said it was written on the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents, smoked cigarettes and made war on each other, the seasons would change: Jem and I were burdened with the guilt of contributing to the aberrations of nature, thereby causing unhappiness to our neighbors and discomfort to ourselves.” (To Kill a Mockingbird, pg 63). I remember being that young and having that same blind faith in everything I was told.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely – especially if you read it as a child and thought it was only okay. I am so glad that I went back to it as an adult. It’s not an especially difficult read, but it tackles a lot of issues and does it well. Scout is a very relatable character and that is part of the fun. I almost wish I hadn’t been forced to read it when I was younger, because it was so much harder to appreciate a good book when it is given as homework. That being said, I am very glad I picked this up again and I highly recommend you do the same!