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Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Jem and Scout Finch are growing up. Scout has to go to school and while she’s learned to argue with her lawyer father Atticus, some times Dad just puts his foot down. Scout makes friends with a boy her own age named Dill who comes to live with his aunt each summer. Dill wants to see Boo Radley, a mysterious recluse who lives next door to the Finch’s.
Atticus takes on a case where a black man is accused of raping a white woman. Atticus is afraid of how it is going to affect both Jem and Scout as gossip mongers in town are now calling Atticus a nigger lover and that attitude trickles down to the children. Atticus make hash of the prosecutors case but the jury isn’t swayed and convict the man to death. While in prison awaiting appeal he tries to escape (his right arm is withered and of no use) and is gunned down by the guards. The father of the woman making the accusations realizes how Atticus destroyed his story and vows revenge on him even though he won the case.
Jem and Scout are returning home one night from the Halloween party at school when they are attacked by an unknown assailant. Jem’s arm is broken and he’s knocked on the head. The assailant begins to try to choke Scout to death but due to her costume (a ham made from chicken wire and paper mache) is foiled. The assailant is in turn assailed by a mysterious rescuer and this person takes an unconscious Jem home. Turns out the assailant was the father who swore vengeance on Atticus. The rescuer? Boo Radley, a sickly albino.
The book ends with the Sheriff telling Atticus that the vengeance swearer fell on his own knife and that nobody, especially not Boo Radley, stabbed him to protect the children.
My goodness. What a great book. A story told by an adult remembering everything through the eyes of a 7-9 year old girl.
While everyone always focuses on the case with the black man and that Boo Radley is real and saves Scout, to Scout, who is telling the story, they aren’t any more important than the day at school when the teacher smacked her hand because she explained how some of the kids thought. This is a book about growing up and not realizing it until years later.
I don’t know exactly what to say here. I am glad that books like this are still read in schools. Maybe being older has given me an appreciation for just what Lee did here? I found the idea of “Scout” telling the story to be perfect. The occasional interjections by her as her older self simply brought out what she missed as a child. At the same time, I never felt hit over the head by Lee writing ham-handedly or TRYING to “make a point”. She makes her points very casually and lets it be up to the reader just how much they actually want to “get”.
I know I saw the movie several times during middleschool and highschool but I can’t remember if I ever actually read this before. I am glad I did read this now and I look forward to a re-read in 10’ish years.
This is a well written, engaging book that you can read for pure enjoyment if you so desire or you can read it as a classic tale of growing up in the South or you can read it as an activist and use it to bash people over the head with your SJW ideals. In this regards Lee is like a firearms manufacturer. She lets you, the user, decide just how to use this book.
As it should be.