To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

With all the great new books out there, sometimes it is nice to curl up with a classic.

After reading Gone with the Wind (my ultimate excuse for attempting to get out of Literature 101; “but look, I am reading Gone with the Wind!  I don’t need this course!”), I asked Lisa if I should read the sequel.  I have seldom seen Lisa passionate about a particular issue but reading the sequel to Gone With The Wind received an resounding “No.”  I assumed that Rhett Butler’s People would lack recommendation as well, but I wanted to continue on a Southern theme.  Hence, I gravitated toward Lee’s Mockingbird (having seen the movie at least twice) and enjoyed every word.

There are few books that I truly savor.  Harper Lee deserved to be slowly enjoyed and digested, like a good winter meal on a particularly cold day.  The images that she creates within your mind are majestic and believable.  While the main theme revolves around racism and Atticus’s defense of Tom Robinson, the subtle subplots constantly move the story forward.  You can not help but to love Calpurnia as she watches Jem and Scout, and admire Atticus for taking on his impossible mission– knowing that he is Don Quixote but willing to take that chance.  The reader witnesses racial separatism from a child’s eye, and realizes the ridiculousness of judging an individual because of skin color rather than quality (or “breeding” as Aunt Alexandra would remind us).  And then there is “Dill,” who is without a literary doubt, Truman Capote and Scout’s best friend beside her brother.  I loved the line that Atticus gives us when Dill shows up at their house one summer, “From rape to riot to runaways, I wonder what the next two hours will bring.”

I could talk about how this was a child’s realization of her perceived father vs. her real one, but Harper Lee tells that story so well that it should be left to the women like Miss Maudie to explain that history.  But instead, I shall just leave the story to stand as it is, a semi-autobiographical book which tells of growing up in a small southern town where one small outspoken girl learns the pain of having to walk in the shoes of other people.  Having been there, done that, I can only say that Harper Lee tells an accurate story.

My friend Kathy (another literary nutcase) tells me that the best southern female writers usually only have one good story to tell.  I tend to agree, with a sarcastic nod.  Harper Lee may have only had one good story, but like a good serving of biscuits and gravy, it is well worth the time to enjoy.

Thanks Lisa. 🙂

2 Responses to “To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee”

  1. MMm Biscuits and gravy…

    Reading your review it strikes me that my other favorite Southern novel deals with racism in Alabama- Siddon’s Heartbreak Hotel. Hmmm for that matter, so is GWTW. I don’t think Scarlet’s eyes were opened like Scout and Maggie’s.

  2. I though this was a great book. It was nicely paced and realistic. It’s a true classic.

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