To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those mid-Twentieth Century classics that everyone reads in school. But somehow this classic has eluded me for years.
There were three English teachers in my high school and two of them were teaching To Kill a Mockingbird as part of their curriculum for Junior year. I had the third teacher. She was wonderful and while I don't remember her name I will never forget the novels she had us read. They planted the seed of a lifelong love of books in me. She also allowed us to pick our own classics for one term and that freedom to chose what I wanted to read was quite liberating. It was only a few years later that I decided to become an English major even with my long history of poor reading comprehension.
That disability was brought to light while reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I often times found myself confused and had to re-read sections. I couldn't quite tell if we were listening to Scout as an adult narrate her past or if it was Scout in the present. Or a combination of both. I've always had difficulty reading fiction and was hoping it would not have been so noticeable when I read this classic.
Despite my difficulties, I thoroughly enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. Stories set in the South are some of my favorites. There is something about the culture matched with sweltering heat and isolation that produces amazing stories. As a child of 1980s Cartoons, I often found myself trying to get rid of the Jem TV show theme song every time I encountered the same name in the text. I felt like I wanted to get closer to the characters but they were held at a distance to me. Atticus is a character I would love to learn more about but he will just always be an enigma to me. I love how sensitive this book is to prejudice and racism and I'm sure it made a historic impact on the civil rights movement when the book was published in 1961 and the movie released the following year.
This book deals with some heavy issues and I feel that the young character of Scout provides a good entry way into the story for young folks which makes it perfect reading for school curriculums. If the novel had been from an adult point of view, I don't think high school students would have been able to identify with the characters or develop an interest in the plot as they would with a much younger character. Overall I am very glad I took the opportunity to finally read this book after so many years. Now on to the movie!
Disclaimer: I got a copy of this book from Harper Perennial for hosting a giveaway for the 50th anniversary of the movie on my film blog.