To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Published April 29, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.

What did I think?:

I realised a little while ago that I’ve got so many books on my shelves/current TBR that the books on my favourites shelves are getting a bit neglected as I tend to prioritise new releases over books I’ve read before – I guess as most book bloggers tend to do. As an adult I’m primarily a “one book only” sort of girl which is strange as I remember so clearly being eleven years old, at boarding school in Scotland and staying with my Gran during the half-term. My parents lived in Germany as my dad was in the army so I could only see them at the end of term but I loved staying with my Gran. I registered at the local library where she lives and to my delight, I realised I could take out up to SIX books with my current library card. Of course, me being me I took out the whole six book allowance and because I didn’t think I’d have time to read all six before I went back to school, I used to read a couple of chapters of one and then switch to another one (and so on right through the six books). That way, every book got a chance and I got a new, exciting story every few chapters. THERE IS A POINT TO THIS STORY, I PROMISE.

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter you may have seen this post of my shelves. I can’t even fit them all in!

Anyway, I realised if I reverted back to my child-like habits and read more than one book at a time, it would be a great way to get through my massive TBR and (here is the point….) re-visit some of those old favourites that I’ve never read more than once. My new plan over the last six months has been to combine my current “main” read with a non-fiction book and then one on my favourites shelf. I’ll be reading three books at a time which isn’t as ambitious as my eleven year old past self was (haha) and I think the combination of non-fiction with an old favourite (where I’m well aware of the plot and characters) will mean I don’t mix up the books too much, which was a concern of mine.

This could actually be me. Yes it could. But it’s not. (YET!)

After all that nonsense and unnecessary drivel I’m here to tell you about one of my favourite books, To Kill A Mockingbird which has now become a classic and is taught now in many schools at GCSE level here in the UK. I guess a big concern of mine was that I’ve changed a lot in the last ten years and my tastes may have too, ergo maybe it wouldn’t be a favourite anymore? No worries on that account. This novel was just as powerful, just as poignant and just as gorgeously written as I remembered. If you haven’t read it yet (where have you BEEN, go read it immediately!), it’s the tale of  Jean Louise “Scout” and Jem Finch, brother and sister in the hot summers of the 1930’s in the Deep South. They have a beautifully close relationship and enjoy playing with each other and the boy next door, Dill. Their new favourite game is to frighten and dare each other in an attempt to make the local mysterious hermit-like Arthur “Boo” Radley to engage with them. As well as this, the children have their first experience of prejudice, racism and terrifying attitudes and behavour when their father, lawyer Atticus Finch is tasked with defending a black man accused of raping a local white girl.

Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch in the 1962 film directed by Robert Mulligan.

I think that’s all I want to say about the plot as I’m sure you’re all aware of it. This is just such a delightful novel that I’m so glad I had the experience of re-reading. All I could think of as I was reading it was the 1995 song by the Boo Radleys“Wake Up Boo,” which I loved as a teenager and had running through my head as I finished each chapter. To Kill A Mockingbird is illuminating in its intensity and every moment of it felt so nostalgic for me. One of the best things I’ve realised about re-reading a favourite is that you often forget huge portions of the narrative and this was definitely true with this novel. Oh my goodness, the part when Scout and Jem rush to the local jail where Tom Robinson is being held whilst an angry mob threatens Atticus and the part where Scout dresses up as a giant ham for the Halloween pageant and the events that occur after that….no major spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it of course! I think what makes this novel so special is that it has moments that really warm your heart and then it deals with such difficult issues that at times, my skin crawled with disgust.

The Boo Radleys – to listen to “Wake Up Boo,” visit this link HERE.

And the characters! Please let me take just a moment to show my appreciation for independent, tomboy, dress-hating, determined Scout who captured my attention immediately and who I still continued to think about as a strong female lead, even without reading the book for a number of years! Then there is the beautiful man that is Atticus Finch, the ultimate father figure, who loves his children unconditionally, is brave and not afraid to stand up for what he believes in and is the most wonderful role model, adviser and parent that any child could wish for. I couldn’t have asked for anything better from this re-read, it will be staying on my shelves as a confirmed favourite, in fact it actually surpassed my expectations. When I originally read it, I gave it four stars on Goodreads. I wonder if you can guess what I’m giving it now?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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21 comments on “To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee

  • I had Of Mice and Men as my main GCSE text rather than To Kill A Mockingbird but I read it for the first time a few years ago and I wish it had been the book I’d studied. Everything about it blew me away and I loved that you could take all the advice Atticus gave to Scout and Jem and apply it to everything.

    • I think I had Lord Of The Flies for mine but I did mine in Scotland so I think the syllabus is probably a bit different? 😊 it’s just wonderful isn’t it? All the characters just stole my heart!

      • It probably is, although I went to a school in Manchester and did both English exams under WJEC which is the Welsh exam board. It doesn’t matter because no one cares where we did GCSEs anyway, just that we have them.

        Yeah it is a wonderful book, and it is one of the only ones outside of school/university where I have taken a pen or pencil and underlined passages. I want to re-read it at some point because it is one of those books that grows as a classic with every read.

    • Excellent! You’re my kind of person. Haha. If they were on sale, you’d have to buy them otherwise that would be really rude, right? I’ve actually put myself on a book buying ban this year. However birthday books don’t count and I’ve just received eleven for my birthday, hooray! 😛

      • I was pretty successful with my ban a couple of years ago, but since them have been failing miserably. This year, I didn’t do so badly the first three months, but this month the six from today, three others earlier, and 2 on kindle (and am not counting the public domain ones I downloaded in case I forgot they were available later) 😛

  • I started doing a sort of “round robin” reading method this year, too. It’s really helping me get through my nonfiction books! While I quite enjoy reading nonfiction, it’s sometimes hard for me to be motivated to sit down with a 500 page history tome when I have plenty of fluffy fun reads on the shelves! Now my nonfiction reading gets rewarded with the fun stuff. 😀

    Thanks for the review – this was a classic I somehow didn’t read as a child, and I was blown away when I read it for the first time a few years ago.

    • Thank you Sarah 😊 I know what you mean about the nonfiction TBR, I think I have more that fifty currently?! Eek. I’m thinking of doing “Non Fiction November” as well to get through them this year. 🤔

  • What a wonderful review Beth! I loved the way you got to the point, nice little snippet of your memories of childhood reading. I really enjoy hearing about how bloggers book love started. Loved reading this 😍

    • Aw thank you so much 😊😊😊 that means a lot. I also love when bloggers put a teeny bit of personal stuff in their reviews, makes me feel like I’m getting to know the person rather than the reviewer! ☺️

  • Wow!! your book shelves are impressive! 😀 I loved this review! I know so many people who read this for school and as I didn`t I decided to read it! I finished it yesterday and I loved it!

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