Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdContext

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been on my to-read list for a long time. When you hear a title frequently enough, you become curious. There was a child on the cover, it seemed light-hearted… hahaha. That’ll teach me to judge a book by its cover.

I had no idea what the story was about – at all. Had I had the slightest idea, I would’ve kept it for later and would probably have never come around to read it. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it: this book is a masterpiece and deserves its Pulitzer Price. But it took all my courage to finish it, and now I’ve had enough emotions for a while.

Review

The plot kept me on my toes for a very long time: until about the middle of the book, when I realised what the story was about. Then, for another 150 pages, I became frustrated and wished I had never started that book. I could see where it was leading and didn’t like it. Worse: I was crying so much, I found it hard to continue reading. But the final 70 pages pacified me and made me feel… at peace. Once you started it, you have to push through until the end and not stop when it gets frustrating because the ending is so worth the effort. (Wow, that could be said of a lot of things in life.)

The themes are the strongest point of the book, as is often the case with non-genre fiction. They are deep and they are many, including courage, compassion, racism, karma and gender roles. It’s impossible to finish that book without having thought long and hard about at least one of its themes… or without having had the urge to throw it out the window.

To Kill a Mockingbird movieThe characters felt so alive, it’s like I was a Maycomb citizen and had known them my whole life. I identified a lot with Scout… It might be only the second time I identify so much with a character (the first being Villette’s Lucy Snowe). When I read my own thoughts written by an author with whom I haven’t much in common, I can only admire them. Someday, I want to do that to someone else.

The secondary characters weren’t any less three-dimensional, though: Jem, Atticus (my new favourite name), Miss Maudie… It’s like I was allowed to see their souls.

The language was plain and easy to understand except for some local words, but nothing out of the ordinary considering English isn’t my first language. I loved to “hear” people’s accents.

There might have been a few too many historical references to my taste, but that might just be me not liking to be showered with dates and historical events.

Rating: 10/10

Who would I recommend this to? Lovers of deep non-genre literature, who love feeling intense emotions; even better if they also love American history (I’m sure there were lots of references in there I didn’t get because I’m not a US citizen). However, I think it’s cruel to force anybody under 18 to read it; there are more accessible English classics out there.

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15 thoughts on “Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

    • I’m sure you would! I could probably not have enjoyed it fully when I was 14-15… if only because I was still “unconsciously incompetent” as a writer. Now I can better analyse it, understand why it’s so great, and use the principles in my own work!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve heard things about this book over the years, enough to gather that it would be an emotional roller coaster ride. Consequently I’ve never had the urge to read it, though I’d be happy if someone gave me a good synopsis.
    It sounds like you’ve been very fair in your assessment of the story and its characters. I read that Gregory Peck won an Oscar for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, so you know it’s going to be an outstanding story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve read this book quite a long time ago and don’t remember the details but I remember writing an essay about it in high school, so I definitely must have liked it! Maybe I should give it another try sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi,
    My favorite book in the world. I changed my life for it. I quit teaching middle school English in order to teach high school English so I could read the book. Great choice– #1 best seller for 40 weeks. Doesn’t get much better.
    Janice

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading (and writing!) book reviews so I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post! I’m always on the look out for new books and this is definitely going on my ‘to-read’ list 🙂 I’ve seen this book referenced a few times in various American TV programmes and now I’ve read you review I’m intrigued! I also love the way you spoke of relating to the characters, that’s definitely something I do very strongly and the way you described it was perfect! X

    Liked by 1 person

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