To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Series: To Kill a Mockingbird #1
Publisher: J. B. Lippincott & Co.
Released: July 11, 1960
Pages: 324
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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

I liked To Kill a Mockingbird as much as I hoped I would, which was a bit of a relief, considering the fact that American classics have tended to not quite live up to my expectations.
There is a very effectual simplicity to the story, which I think goes a long way in making it as powerful as it is. It is told in a straightforward manner, and little (yet, just enough) is left unsaid when it comes to the issues it takes on. The characters are relatable when they need to be, likable when they need to be, and villains when they need to be. It’s a remarkably easy read for what it gives back, and I mean that in a very good way.

We get to follow Scout, the young girl through whose eyes we follow the story, gradually gain an understanding of the world around her. She learns about the ugliness, injustice, and inequality around her, but she also witnesses the goodness and honesty of the people who are trying their best to make up for it. While this is all experienced first-hand by Scout, the reader goes through the same journey. The way in which the events of the story are all laid out in such a wall-paced, at times damning, manner doesn’t leave the reader with much freedom to interpret them. The reader is confronted with obvious, inexcusable, injustice. It is up to the reader to decide how to feel about it, but there is no escaping the fact that the injustice is there.

Unfortunately the moral of the story is still all too relevant. It is likely that the reader will be like the many people in the book who see the obvious injustice, but leave the thankless job of acting upon it to others. Hopefully there will also be people like Atticus, who dare to speak up, and force us to confront the inconvenient injustices that have become too comfortable for the rest of us to live with. These people will get little or no credit when the rest of us begrudgingly change our ways, but in the end we all know that we need them.

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