Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

18 April 2012

The irony behind my history with this book is the fact that years ago, Daddy purchased it for us children, insisting that it was a good book and a worthwhile read. Glancing at the cover only long enough to form a biased and unexperienced opinion, I decided that the book was "dull" and not worthy of my time. Years later, when it appeared on my tutorial's reading list and I was made to read it (why is it that we listen to the world before our own parents?), I was forced to admit that my early assumptions were incorrect. To Kill a Mockingbird, though quite sad at some parts, is most definitely a worthwhile read, as Daddy had assured me all along. 

To Kill a Mockingbird 
By Harper Lee
*Summary from

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

My Thoughts: I think TKAM is well on its way to becoming a favorite among my other well-beloved titles. The characters, the setting, the dialogue — everything about it endeared me to the story. Lee's manner of writing appealed to me because it was so easy to forget you were reading a book for school and get caught up in the twists and turns of the story. I fell in love with Scout almost immediately, and only a few pages later, the whole town of Maycomb, with its sleepy habits and family ties. Yes, it does have its issues, but there is something so very endearing about the old ladies on their porches, sipping iced tea under the shade of wide-brimmed hats. Does that not make you want to drop in for a visit?

Pros: As previously mentioned, the story is an enjoyable, comfortable sort of read, and the sentences flow together as smoothly and placid as Maycomb itself. The premise of TKAM may seem light on the surface — a young tomboy of a girl growing up in a small Southern town — but the more you go back and reread certain sections, the more you realize the underlying current of deep truth. Lee also has a pleasant way of mixing little bits of humor in with the more melancholy scenes, so the reader neither gets a story morbid and dark or sickly in its sweetness. It's a well-written book and certainly work reading over and over.

Cons: Words like h--- and d--- are used several times, most from Scout's tongue. She thinks using swear words will make her father think she picked such language up at school and he will keep her at home, but other than that, she has no malevolent intents. Later, her uncle chastises her for this. Themes such as rape, racism, and abuse are present, and though not discussed in detail, they make this book appropriate for the more mature reader.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I recommend this book for ages 14+

A Bit O' Reading for the Day:
"Atticus said to Jem one day, 'I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
'Your father's right,' she said. 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'" — To Kill a Mockingbird, chapter 10

What have you been reading lately?

4 epistles:

  1. I will have to add it to my library list! I had written it down a while ago to read, but then I was unsure whether or not it was a good book! Thanks for recommending it Elizabeth Rose! I'll have to finish "Ivanhoe" first!

    Blessings, Miss Purity

  2. I too read this for school, and I agree that it made the "school" aspect of reading it vanish quickly, being sucked into the story and plot, characters and settings...

    Thank you for your lovely review... tis' a pleasure to read!

    In Christ,

  3. Hi Elizabeth,

    Thank you for the detailed review, I will have to look into finding a copy of this book.

    In the meantime, I would absolutely love to procure a copy of your recently-published book. Is there a way I could purchase one/have a copy sent to me?

    Thanks Elizabeth,

  4. An American classic, tour de force, easily read, and just plain interesting. The 50s movie, compliments it well but the book is a warm captivating insight into Southern small-town life in the 30s that goes beyond what the movie can portray. I like both. And the book is something I read every couple years. It's that good.
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