Wednesday, 9 July 2014

BOOKS: To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

TKAMB is regarded as one of the ‘great American classics’, and it’s easy to see why. When I first read it early this year, I couldn’t put it down. I know that’s such a cliché, but it’s just one of those books that just grabs your interest and doesn’t let go until the very last page. My favourite kind of book.

Before I get into discussing the story itself, let me give a little background as to how TKAMB came into my possession. At the beginning of 2014, I vowed to read more books throughout the year (I’m not anywhere near my target but that’s another story…) and thus, I bought loads of classic second-hand novels online, for super cheap – everything from The Great Gatsby to The Catcher in the Rye, and of course, To Kill A Mockingbird was one. The thing about classics is that, like modern books, they’re not one-genre-suits-all. They’re all completely different, with different plots and themes and everything else, so you’re not going to like them all. I did read a great post on reading classic books but can't find the link (bad blogger alert) but if I do, I'll link it back here or in the comments - so if you’re interested, you can give it a read!

Anyway, what am I getting at? Well, out of all of the ‘classic’ novels that I’ve read so far this year, To Kill A Mockingbird is one that I truly, truly enjoyed. Couldn’t put it down, as I said earlier. I haven’t been so lucky with other books but again, another story for another day.
So what’s it all about? Well, TKAMB follows the story of two young kids, growing up in the Deep South, in the 1930’s. The story is told from the perspective of Jean Louise Finch, known as Scout, who’s four years younger than her brother, Jeremy Atticus Finch, or simply, Jem. We first meet the two in the midst of summer, when Scout is only five years old, and her brother, nine. As you can imagine, Scout’s perspective is very innocent, although she is very intelligent for her age. One of the things I really like about this is how we see the world and all of its problems through the eyes of a five year old girl.

Of course, because it’s set in 1930’s Alabama, or Maycomb County to be more precise, there are many issues in the society at the time: race and class are two huge issues, and it’s both intriguing and humorous to see little Scout’s reactions to the “irrationality of adult attitudes” to both of these issues. The Finch children live on the same street as the mysterious, and sometimes creepy, Radleys, at a neglected house known as the ‘Radley Place’. The kids are, of course, terrified of the Radley Place, and of the many ridiculous and frightening stories surrounding one member of the household, Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley.

What’s more, their father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer, who later must defend “the real mockingbird” of the story – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Again, we see through Scout’s innocent eyes how she perceives and interprets what’s going on, how wealth and rights are so ill-divided between different races and classes, as well as genders. So as well as being a work of fiction, there’s a lot of history riddled within this book. I’m a bit of a history geek myself and found it all really interesting, so if it’s something you like too, I suggest you get yourself a copy of this!

I’d recommend TKAMB to those who, as I said, like a bit of history and factual ‘stuff’ interlaced with their fiction, or just like a book with a good dose of suspense and tension, mixed in with humour, childhood innocence and a little mystery.

Truman Capote is quoted on the back saying, “Someone rare has written this very fine novel, a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humour. A touching book; and so funny, so likeable.”
Ciara Pollock © . Design by FCD.