To Kill A Mockingbird is the best book I have read this year, and maybe last year, hands down. I read it once in middle school, but didn't remember anything about it and therefore don't count that. Now, as an adult, I have to say this is IMMEDIATELY going in my top five of all time all time all time. Why don't more people talk about this book? INHALE deep breath ok here we go:
It's a simple story about a little girl, her brother, and her father in a 1930's Southern town. The father, Atticus, is a lawyer set to defend a young black man against a rape charge. Things get difficult for the family as the town's latent racism rises up. Amidst this backdrop, Scout and Jem (the brother and sister) do various growing-upish type things. There's a creepy neighbor in a creepy house.
This is a book about Truth with a capital "T", the kind that breaks your heart to learn, the good truths about people and the bad. Truths about losing your innocence, maintaining integrity at all costs, race, class, God, hypocrisy, family, and the South. It's actually pretty heavy on the Southern Gothic, which I thought was interesting after having just read Everything That Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor, the South's saint of gothicy-ness. Gotta tell you: Flannery's got nothing on Harper.
Interestingly enough, Flannery said this of To Kill A Mockingbird: "I think for a child's book it does alright. It's interesting that all the folks that are buying it don't know they're reading a child's book. Somebody ought to say what it is."
I think Flannery can sit on it and spin. This is no child's book, though it is told from the point of view of a child. Harper used the same elements as Flannery O'Connor: forms of the gothic, elements of grotesqueness through physical deformity, essential Southern-ness, and Christianity, but she does it better. Harper never tries to hide the fact that amidst all of this, there is goodness in the world. She doesn't beat you with ugliness to make her point. Flannery lets people off the hook at the end of her works: Harper never puts them on it.
Anyway, this wasn't meant to be a comparison between the two novelists, but having just read O'Connor, these were the thoughts that beat me about the face and neck. Another thought: if you're suffering through a blazingly hot summer, maybe don't read back to back books about blazingly hot summers. Just a suggestion.
The only criticism I can find of this book falls into one of two camps: it's too idealistic, or it's too popular. My only response is: get a soul, you heartless snob.
The best promotion I can give this book is this: it made me cry (when the neighbors bring Atticus all the food after the trial). I've never cried reading a book. EVER.
Five stars out of your mom. And by five stars I mean roughly six hundred and twelve.