Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Review of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird"

After being vaguely aware of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird for years, I finally decided to check it out from the library and read it. I am so glad I did. Brilliantly written, I don't think a brief summary could ever do it justice. It "preaches" but it does so in a way that is hopeful and uncynical. It entertains without making light of sin or pretending that it is all okay or that nothing can be done about it anyway. It is a book that should empower us to look for good in others but make the right decision even when they let us down.

I feel the author handled dark subject matter delicately by allowing the main voice to be that of a child. We enjoy the play of children, the pleasure of reading with a parent, and a first snowstorm (and a snowman made out of more dirt than snow) and are led gently into more serious matters.

It was fun to be inside Jean Louise "Scout" Finch's mind and discover her world with her. I never knew how she would respond. Tenacious, bold, and active, she is also a thinker who wants to understand a world that doesn't always make sense. I appreciate how "real" she is in that she is not a perfect little girl. She is not completely free of the prejudices that filtered through from neighbors, school, and friends. Yet, she wrestles with the big questions and allows herself to find a more loving answer based on truth instead of fear or wrongly placed traditionalism.

First published the year my parents were born (1960), I feel the world is a better place because of To Kill a Mockingbird. I know our country has a ways to go when it comes to racism and superiority complexes based on silly things like how long your family has lived in one place or how much money you have, but reading Harper Lee's novel made me see the great progress we have made as a nation. ...Progress I don't always see because of how "normal" my own attitudes and community are to me.

And, although the ending is not a simplistically happy one, evil does not win. Justice is served. Hope for the future survives.

1 comment:

Robert Wayne Moore said...

Elizabeth,

Thanks for a nicely written introduction to this book. I have to admit I haven't read it. How was it not required reading at some point along the way? Perhaps I should take a look. It seems difficult for me to break away from the (many) books I get myself in the middle of at one time!

Dad