Monday 13 July 2015

Thoughts on To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Title: To Kill A Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Release Date: 50th Anniversary Ed 24th June 2010
Publisher: Arrow
Synopsis: Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

Review: I am a little late to the party in posting this (having read it during the recent Re-read), but I feel today is also a very appropriate day to post and so here we are. Why you may ask? Well I’ll tell you why! For we are on the eve, of what will probably be the biggest publication of the year. The return of Harper Lee! The return of Scout! The release of Go Set A Watchman.

But that’s a story for a different day…

I first read To Kill A Mockingbird back in GCSE, no as part of the course, but as part of some personal challenge to blast through my reading list in the summer. Probably some futile attempt to impress my English teacher (sorry miss!). And when I blast, I mean it because in going back to this there was so much more that I took from it when I took my time reading it! Everyone should read this book!

The first thing I loved was the introduction (which is only natural as it’s at the start of the book) but it was the short succinct way that it was written, saying that there really was no need for an introduction and just get on with it that I loved. And indeed there should be no introduction. You should just dive in and experience it.

Scout’s narrative is probably one of the things that sticks with us most. I loved her voice, and I can still here it now, questioning and arguing. I love how you can so clearly get a feel for the town she’s living in, the accent (I have a big thing for accents) the people…all though one child’s eyes. You get such a strong impression of her and want to fight and run with her. This obviously isn’t a one-woman show, Atticus is another strong prominent figure, fighting for his beliefs in a time that it wasn’t easy to do so. Yet he was also shown as human, not a perfect man, but someone to look up to and I think he’s spoken to a lot of us over the years.

There was a beautiful fluid nature to the writing, that I’m sure this many years on has been said and said again so that no one really cares, but it’s still true, and if this were an English GCSE exam I would go on about this a lot more. The story is also so strong, highlighting a turbulent political and cultural time, and how this can be constricted and enhanced within one small town. But also how this wasn’t a blanket belief, and there were people fighting for a right cause.

There is a lot of mixed opinion on this upcoming…lets call it a companion novel rather than a sequel, and there will be a lot of comment and debate on it after its publication. Yes TKAM exists in itself as a great piece of literature that has  been untouched by another work for so long, so, at least for me, it will be interesting to see what Go Set A Watchman does, and where it takes us…

I would love to hear your thoughts on both TKAM and GSAW. Happy Reading.


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