This review does not contain spoilers.
Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel—a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.
I am not a big reader of classics. There are some that I like, but I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to start again from the beginning as soon as I finished reading them. Until now. To Kill a Mockingbird has become, without a doubt, my favourite classic novel.
A lot of people read this book in high school but I don’t know that it was ever on any of my course lists. I dismissed it as something that was probably outdated and unenjoyable. That being said, I had never actually read a synopsis of the book. I knew the names Atticus Finch, I knew that a hermit-like person was often called Boo Radley, but not once had I stopped to enquire what the book was truly about.
So it was a surprise when I was enamoured with Scout’s narrative voice after the first page. I was downright shocked when the third page had me laughing out loud. Thankfully, it wasn’t a one-off occurrence. There were many more lines in this book that had me smirking or laughing, and even a few times when I teared up. Though there were gaps between the major events and the plot wasn’t always fast-paced, I never got bored. The writing style always kept me wanting more.
To Kill a Mockingbird tears down the walls of time and tells a story that is not out of place in today’s society. Some details have changed, some progress has been made, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to read about a case like Tom Robinson’s in the newspaper. I don’t know when or if we’ll be able to call racial prejudice a thing of the past, but even after that day comes, this story will never stop being relevant.
Scout’s youth carries this story perfectly, exposing flawed logic and prejudice in a way that’s utterly disarming. She’s not written in a patronising manner. She’s not too old for her years. She’s a bright and inquisitive child. Far from perfect herself, Scout’s character development throughout the novel is remarkable. I love her as a six-year-old and as a nine-year-old and at every stage between.
To Kill a Mockingbird made me laugh and cry, and touched my heart again and again. The writing style, the characters, the story all combine to create a true masterpiece—and I don’t use that word lightly. I can’t recommend this book enough. If you’ve never read it before—especially if your reasons are something like mine—then move this to the top of your TBR list and dive in. Hopefully you’ll love it as much as I do.