Book title: “To Kill A Mockingbird”
Author: Harper Lee
Genre/Audience: Fiction; young adult/adult
Worth the read?: Like a true classic, yes!
I must admit my guilt: I’m the worst ever at reading classic literature. I just don’t think in the space of classics. And yet I aspire to fulfill C.S. Lewis’ command to read old books so we can learn from the past. “To Kill A Mockingbird” is my first step that direction in 2018, and, honestly, since high school.
I somehow left high school without ever having to read this one. Actually, the only classic novels I recall reading in high school were Huck Finn and “The Scarlet Letter.” Maybe there were more, but I sure as heck can’t remember them.
I’ll admit, my expectations for enjoying this book were low (pause for you to sharpen your pitchfork!). Pleasantly and unexpectedly, I was met with a story that really does deserve the title of classic.
What is there to be said about Harper Lee’s wildly successful book that has not already been spoken? Not much, I’m afraid. But don’t think that means I won’t try!
First of all, how did I manage to live almost 21 years without ever having been spoiled to this book? I went in knowing so little that when I first read the name Atticus Finch, I actually said out loud, “Oh, so that’s who that is?!” I’d heard the name before, in school or even regular conversation, and recognized it as belonging to someone important. But how was I that incredibly dense? Honestly, I was annoyed with my own ignorance.
Secondly, another confession: I spent the entire book absolutely terrified of how it would end. Really, truly terrified. Aren’t classics inherently depressing? I thought that was how we were supposed to learn all of life’s lessons.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly all butterflies and rainbows by the end, either. There’s still a long way to go in Maycomb, Alabama and the rest of the world, too. There is aching and pain and struggle in “To Kill A Mockingbird,” as expected of any good story. But I wasn’t crying from heartbreak, and I didn’t feel the urge to throw the book across the room when it ended. Instead, I placed it gently next to me and sighed a deep sigh.
Real stories hit you right in the chest, ya know? You know that it’s not a true story, per se, but you know that it’s real and valid, and that, for someone, it’s the truest description about their experience with life.
I’m a little scared to read the 2015 release of “Go Set A Watchman.” I looked it up the other day and read a little too far on Wikipedia, and now I’m terrified I’ll hate it and that everything will be ruined. More on that later this year, I’m sure.
Since I had such little knowledge about the plot going into this, every page was genuinely a surprise. I was so enthralled by the story that I read it almost constantly until I was through. I fell in love with the heart of little Scout. I see a lot of myself in her. Tiny Nikki was just as much of a spitfire. Faced with an angry mob of people, I’d have reacted much the same way. Faced with the prospect of making friends with the town recluse, I would have been just as obsessed. Making friends with the “old” lady across the street? Heck yes to that, too. I did that all the time as a kid. I could go on.
There’s so much more to the story, things I’m not going to delve into because I really can’t say anything new. I’ve barely scratched the surface. Now all I can do is reflect.
I love when you close a book and are faced with the question, “What now?” These books make you step back and evaluate the world around you, what you are contributing to it, and how you can and must change it for the better. “To Kill A Mockingbird” definitely did this for me.
We have a lot to learn from “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
Everyone, I believe, could use a little more Atticus Finch in them.
My heart is still recovering. It was good. So, so good. I’m angry it took me this long to read it, but maybe I wouldn’t have loved it as much any other time of my life. I will definitely reread, possibly as soon as next year.
P.s. – Get excited, I have my own domain now!