To Kill a Mockingbird Hardback
by Harper Lee
Part of the New Windmills series
One of a series of fiction titles for schools. Scout, the keen-eyed narrator, and her brother Jem interrupt their games to champion their lawyer father when, in a hostile, racist town in the American South, he battles to defend Tom, who is black and accused of murder.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Pearson Education Limited
- Publication Date: 05/09/1966
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780435120962
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 reviews.
Review by unlikelyaristotle
This is a wonderful story set in (I believe fictional) county of Maycomb, a Southern village in America during the 1930s. The narrator is a young girl, Scout Finch, and it centers around her father - Atticus Finch - who is a lawyer and appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white girl. I like many things about this book. First of all, it speaks in the voice of a child so innocently and perfectly, I can completely imagine a young Scout Finch penning it while bored on a hot Maycomb County night. Second, I love the sense of humor, the accidental children's sense of humor, like when Scout decided she wanted to try 'cussing' and calmly recounted the incident of when she asked for someone to 'pass the damn ham' please. I actually laughed out loud in my dentists waiting room at that for a good minute! I'm still not entirely sure why...Third of all, is the simplicity. Although you could say there's maybe two or three stories going on at one time, something about the simple way a complicated story is told, makes it very poignant.
Review by DanaJean
I loved this book. I was supposed to read it in college and thought it would be very Grapes of Wrathy so I just watched the movie. I robbed myself of one of the best written stories ever. The language was genuine, the characters well-crafted. Amazing story.
Review by Mooose
Read it in high school eons ago, heard it on audio more recently and was worried before I bought it -- would it hold up to my memory? would I consider it a classic? could I listen to Sissy Spacek for 12 hours?Thankfully, the answer was yes to all of the above. I had forgotten a lot of the story and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of depth and layers to what Lee wrote. I'm never sure about young children as narrators, as I don't think are any as cognizant as they are written to be, so there were times I had to tell myself to just drop it and move on so I wouldn’t be distracted from the story. If you listen to audio books then you know the narrator can make or break a read. Ms. Spacek did a great job and I’d recommend this audio version to anyone.
Review by brokenangelkisses
Not all books repay rereading; this one does. Harder Lee's 1960 novel is considered a masterpiece of American literature - it won the Pulitzer Prize - and has been part of the school curriculum in America and the UK for many years. Disliking the public scrutiny publication brought, Harper Lee has since stayed out of the spotlight, refusing all interviews since 1964, and has never published another novel. (Though this has changed with the discovery of her earlier work 'To Set a Watchman'.) I have taught this novel many times to groups of 15 and 16 year olds and they are always keen to discuss the issues raised within.== What's it about? ==Jem and Scout Finch are growing up motherless in Southern America during the depression in the 1930s. Their father, Atticus Finch, is a dedicated, decent lawyer who wants to set his children a good example. This is why, when a local black man, Tom Robinson, is unfairly accused of raping a white teenage girl, Mayella Ewell, Atticus feels obliged to accept a case he is sure - due to the deep-seated racism in his community - he cannot win. The novel follows Tom's trial, its aftermath and the effects on Atticus' children.== What's it like? ==A bit of a slow-burner. Narrated in the first-person by a smart six-year-old girl (Scout) the novel is primarily a Bildungsroman - a tale of personal development and maturation. The novel opens with Scout setting the scene by describing the town, which becomes a character in its own right, then focuses on Scout's formal education, her relationship with her father and brother, and the siblings' relationships with a visitor to town, Dill (said to be based on Truman Capote, a childhood friend of Lee's), and a reclusive man known as 'Boo' Radley.The opening chapters set the scene effectively and prepare the reader well for later events, but it's not until the trial begins that the book becomes compelling in terms of its plot. (Given the evidence, the reader desperately wants Tom to be found innocent.) It's worth being patient, and less effort than the notion of 'patience' suggests; the narration is easy to follow while always remaining both interesting and realistic.Although Scout narrates the book with the benefit of hindsight, deliberately selecting her starting point, she is still only nine or so years old when supposedly writing and this allows Lee to contrast the innate innocence of childhood with the disturbed moral values of most of the adults around her. Scout often fails to understand what she hears, leaving the reader to bridge the gap with their more advanced comprehension of the way adults think and react. As the book progresses, the gap in understanding between Scout and Jem develops as he begins to grasp the way his society operates. This is skilfully revealed by Lee through several episodes which reveal Jem's growing sense of responsibility and adoption of adult concerns, culminating in (according to Scout) 'the greatest betrayal of our childhood'. I particularly enjoy this aspect of the story - the way the reader can see Scout and Jem learning as a result of their experiences.It's worth noting that despite her youth and naïvety, Scout's vocabulary is sufficiently advanced that I always had to issue my classes with glossaries to support their understanding! This is not to say that the language used is overly complex, and I would not anticipate adults experiencing any difficulties, but Scout has an impressive vocabulary for someone so unenamoured of formal education! (It is an amusing footnote, I think, that a book in which formal education is portrayed as, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, an opportunity to reinforce prejudices, has been so widely taught.)The trial forms the heart of the book and is comprised primarily of dialogue. Readers cannot help but 'root' for Atticus and Tom, despite knowing how events are likely to end. Setting the book in a time frame twenty-five years before it was published allowed Lee to show Americans how much progress had been made - and how much there still was to make. Tom Robinson's predicament was inspired by several cases of injustice Lee was aware of, including the infamous Scottsboro case in which several black men were convicted of raping a white woman on negligible evidence. This real life context makes Tom's case more chilling: contemporary readers would have understood just how severe his predicament was; modern readers may not find the storyline as powerful if they are unaware of key historical factors such as the power wielded by the Ku Klux Klan and the very real danger of being lynched.It is a testament to Lee's own sense of fairness that very few characters are entirely unsympathetic. Mayella is as much a victim as Tom, and even her brutal father, Bob, is clearly, in some ways, a victim of his circumstances - though this doesn't justify his actions. Lee clearly believes most people are redeemable. One character in particular develops from being a key leader in a threatening mob, to a stubborn advocator for justice. This is why a novel that could be perceived as simply very dark succeeds in creating such positive feelings. (Similarly, no character is unconvincingly perfect. Atticus is a flawed father as much as he is a brave lawyer.)'To Kill a Mockingbird' is frequently lauded as an anti-racist text, but there is much more to it than this (admittedly very important) theme. The title itself refers to Harper Lee's most significant idea: it is a sin to kill a mockingbird - or any creature who seeks only to spread joy to others. There are many characters within the story who could be considered mockingbirds, which is one of the reasons the text works well in classrooms: it inspires debate and discussion. It would work very well as a book group choice.Other themes tackled include sexism, as Scout is instructed in how to be a lady by her Aunt Alexandra, classism, the true meaning of courage, and empathy for all, including miserable old ladies. All themes are consistently integrated into the narrative structure and, unlike some equally famous books, the reader never feels like they are simply being hit over the head with a moral lesson.== Final thoughts ==This book is deservedly a classic which is well-worth a place on everyone's book-case.It has been the subject of some controversy recently due to its use of the N-word, but this is one of those occasions when it would be inappropriate to change the original text. Besides which, the word is already used it a way that makes it clear the author does not condone its use or its associations.Read this if:- you enjoy stories following individual moral development and / or narrated by flawed narrators who require the reader to think a little;- you like stories set in the deep American south featuring injustice, bravery and realistic characters;- you have to because it's assigned on your syllabus!Avoid this if:- erm...you find reading about injustice too depressing. (Although there's quite a bit of justice, too.)
Review by aixakjacobs
To kill a mockingbird is a classic American Novel set in the South in the 1930's.The story is narrated trough the eyes of little tomboy Scout, who in an innocent way describes prejudice, extreme injustice among mankind, Christianity's good and bad sides and generally human beings, as they are with all their flaws and goodness. The book is suggested to be a book for children, however in my opinion the plot and theme's of the book (while readable for a child) are deep and complex and more suitable for adults.In general it is a beautiful story with a beautiful message that is timeless.