by Harper Lee
This was in a set of books I got as a kid, and one of the books in the set I never read. I don’t know why. What’s a mockingbird to me? Why do I want to know how to kill one?
Seriously, though, I think (like many) I have an aversion to “important” books. If someone says “You HAVE to read this” I’m gonna back off. The book was a scant 12 years old when I recevied it, and is now 55, so I guess you could say the aversion is a strong one.
I saw the movie late last year. It’s remarkably faithful!
Anyway, it’s a good book. A good coming-of-age story which dovetailed nicely with the civil rights movement of the era. It’s probably overestimated because of this, but that doesn’t detract from its general quality.
The characters are really well drawn. It’s kind of nice that the narrator, Scout, is kind of a bellicose little girl, with a strong sense of right-and-wrong that doesn’t meet up quite with her father, Atticus’. And her perception of her older brother, as his values come into line more with Atticus’, is a classic depiction of the sort of betrayal all children feel when a former peer becomes “grown up”.
Also priceless is the experience Scout has going to school and discovering she learned to read “wrong”. Disastrous “newfangled” teaching techniques are as old as the 20th century. (I’ve heard from those who were there that they were similarly told about “learning wrong”.)
Of course, the injustice wrought is heart-wrenching, but the book handles it in an unsentimental way, which gives a less exploitative feel to the proceedings than some other works along the same line.
All in all, it’s a fine book, worth reading in spite of all the awards and accolades heaped on it. 😉