Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiction Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

What can I say about this 50-year old timeless masterpiece that hasn’t already been said?  I recently read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee for the second time, for one of my book groups.  I read it for the first time three years ago, for my other book group!  There’s good reason why this classic has stood the test of time and is still so popular with book groups.

Although I remembered the basic plot and that I liked the book very much, I was still astonished by the way I responded to it the second time around.  Within the first few pages, I was laughing out loud and in awe of Harper Lee’s talent for telling an interesting, funny, heartwarming and thought-provoking story.

Everything about To Kill a Mockingbird is just so clever, so perfectly formed.  I was especially impressed this time around with the way that she tells us about a horrifying injustice through the eyes of the innocent Scout.  It provides such a different perspective than, for instance, reading the same story told as a modern legal thriller.  In particular, the scene in front of the courthouse at night, when Scout faces an angry mob with such naiveté, is just breath-taking. 

Her conversation with Mr. Cunningham transforms the man from part of a reckless, unthinking horde into just a neighbor, an ordinary man, and she single-handedly diffuses the tension that could easily have resulted in murder:

“I go to school with Walter,” I began again.  “He’s your boy, ain’t he?  Ain’t he, sir?”

Mr. Cunningham was moved to a faint nod.  He did know me, after all.

“He’s in my grade,” I said, “and he does right well.  He’s a good boy,” I added, “a real nice boy.  We brought him home for dinner one time.  Maybe he told you about me, I beat him up one time but he was real nice about it.  Tell him hey for me, won’t you?”


And besides, who can resist those descriptions of Scout’s first day of school and her encounters with the teacher who is upset to find that she already knows how to read and write?  I was laughing out loud from the very first chapter.  This is definitely one of my favorite books – top five, if not best of all time.



  1. I'm happy to hear that you enjoyed re-reading this. I plan to re-read it for the 1st time since high school this year. What's interesting is that back then I found the first half kind of slow compared to the 2nd half. I wonder what I'll make of it this time around.

  2. Classics. Both the movie and the book. Once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Everyone should read this book once in their lifetime. This edition is nice. I really like the cover too.I am one of those who like to judge the print, if not the book, by the cover.