Tuesday, January 15, 2019

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hadn't read this since my elementary or middle school days, and something made me put it on my list. This book is wasted on school children.

It is a masterpiece of creating a setting and a culture through the observations of an inexperienced character. I was explaining this to my 15 year old son, and he demanded an example. For instance, when Scout is listening to the ladies at the missionary society meeting, she isn't catching the nuances of the conversation, but as the reader you see what is happening: the prejudices, the insults, and the emotional under currents. In several scenes, with very benign prose, I felt emotional about what was happening. That might sound run of the mill, but I'm generally known as a non-emotional person. My wife likes to make the point by reenacting Hermione Granger's accusation "you have the emotional range of a teaspoon." So when this book, without any sappy dialogue, started to tug at my heart strings I was shocked. How!?! It was all in the quality of writing. Presenting real life drama without, well, fake drama. All presented through the eyes of a likable, unassuming character.

So I haven't said anything about racism or politics or history. Yeah, that stuff is there too, and don't get me wrong, it's also well done. That is what gives this book timeless attention, but frankly, there are many other books with those features, they just aren't as well written, or as accessible. You shouldn't read this book because it is useful way to start discussions and prompt essays in English class. You should read it because it is a masterpiece of writing.

I feel like I've wandered in my comments, but I think you get the idea. I appreciated this book, and recommend it to every reader.