Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: "To Kill a Mockingbird" Classic a Month #4

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
5 out of 5 stars

What I remember from high school, before I actually read it: There's a girl named Scout and her dad Atticus Finch (I love that name!!) who live in the South somewhere. Atticus is a lawyer. There's a man named Boo Radley (love that name too!) who does something? And Atticus helps him? I don't know. That's all I remember lol...

Well, I started out okay. :) I don't know exactly when I read this, I'm guessing 8th or 9th grade? I know I enjoyed it, but rereading it now as an adult gives it so much more meaning. My sister and I were discussing this the other day, how high school students are expected to get all this big meaning out of books like this or The Old Man and The Sea (which I detested) or Steinbeck or Fitzgerald. Isn't it more important for them to enjoy reading? I mean, yes, you can still get meaning out of books: Night, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Harriet Tubman, Of Mice and Men...these all affected me in a way that I still remember today. But did I get all the symbolism and crap out of them the way my teachers wanted? Who knows? That's kind of why I'm enjoying reading these classic a month books now...I feel like I can relate to and enjoy them more as an adult. Maybe because no one is forcing me to read them and I don't have to write a 6 page essay on them afterwards lol. (Although this might turn into one!) (Also, I have used the word "meaning" roughly 8 times in this one paragraph so I tried to change some of them up, but I apologize for the remaining instances.)

So let's get on with talking about the actual book, shall we? Simply put: I loved it. Hands down, my favorite classic so far that I've read. I checked it out from the library and as soon as I finished it, I realized I needed to go buy my own copy. (I did this weekend btw) I loved Scout and Atticus and Jem and Boo Radley...I loved all the characters really (except the Ewells, they were scum between my toes). I can see how all the mini stories would get on someones nerves, because it did seem to have a continuity problem at times, but it didn't really bother me. Scout is such a precocious little bugger and her daddy just lets her get away with it. Oh, I love that they call him Atticus too! This is going to turn into a gush-fest, I can tell, so just go with it. Or stop reading this review now and go get your own copy of TKAM so you can know what I mean! :)

When the book starts, Scout is around 6 years old and just starting school in Alabama during the Great Depression. Atticus taught her to read long before that, but she gets in trouble with her teacher for not learning the "right way". Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. After this not so great beginning, Scout decides she doesn't like school and does everything in her willpower to get out of it. Of course, it doesn't work. Atticus believes in education, even if half the children in her class don't show up after the first day.

The world's endin', Atticus! Please do something--!
No it's not. It's snowing.

Growing up in rural Alabama is just about the best thing ever to Scout. She gets away with a lot of stuff and she may be a bit (a lot) of a tomboy, but she's got people who love her (Atticus, big brother Jem, housekeeper Calpurnia, all kinds of neighbors, and Dill, the neighbor's nephew, who has promised to marry her when they grow up. Plus there's Boo Radley, the eccentric neighbor that never leaves his home and no one ever sees. Starting off, the children are obviously intrigued by Boo Radley (I don't know why I have to call him his full name each time, but it just sounds right). He's a grown man living with his father and people say he's not "right in the head". Scout, Jem and Dill constantly try to get a glimpse of him and invent a game of who is brave enough to go on the Radley property. They even stage plays in their yard of the Radley family, which is quickly put to an end when Atticus finds out.

But when they start finding little trinkets in the tree on the edge of the Radley property, Jem & Scout start to wonder if maybe Boo Radley isn't so bad after all. I love Boo Radley. You don't get a lot of scenes about him and only one with him actually physically in the scene, but you get enough to care about him and feel for him. When he saved Jem & Scout at the end, I'll admit, I cried. It was just so sweet.

Atticus, he was real nice.
Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.

You can't really talk about this book without talking about the racism and the court case, but that isn't really what the book is about to me. Atticus is asked to defend a young black man accused of raping a white girl. He does so with all the grace and quiet dignity that he does everything, but his family still suffers for it. Scout and Jem must endure taunts that their father is a "n***** lover" and a disgrace to the town and white people. It's disgusting and sad what Tom Robinson, the accused, has to go thru at the trial but unfortunately it doesn't shock me. Even in 2012, we still see that kind of blatant racism. It's honestly just ridiculous, but I'm not going to go into that too much because this review is already all kinds of long.

It's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you.

I don't think there's much more I can say about this book without it being another 1,000 words. (!) I loved it so much. Maybe I should have just stopped at the 3rd paragraph up there. ;) I think this may be THE BOOK for 2012 for me, similar to The Book Thief last year. I just can't stop gushing about it, so sue me. I'll get Atticus Finch to defend me hah!

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