Review: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee

Hi there! So, it’s the Easter holidays, and despite having time off University, I’ve still been so busy with work that I’ve not been very active on my blog… I’m looking forward to the Summer when I can read as much as I want- even if four months does seem an excessive amount of time off!

So, apart from this being a bit of an update on my life- and a quick reminder that I am still here, and appreciate all your likes and comments, even if it takes me a while to respond- I also thought I would review a book that I have really enjoyed reading.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee follows the story of Jem and Scout, two children growing up in 1930s American South. The book is written from the point of view of Scout, and her account of their childhood in the South covers a time when their father, a lawyer, is defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. Throughout the book Scout looks at issues to do with race, and she questions her father’s actions, giving an insight into the racial hatred of the American South that only a child could.

As well as the backdrop of the court case and the racial tensions of the time, Jem and Scout also spend their time making up horror stories about the local ‘madman’, Boo Radley, who is rumoured to wander around at night, and who the children have never seen. These two elements of the book come together in a way that creates a brilliant, heart-felt narrative, and this book is still incredibly popular today.

One of the reasons I loved this book was the narrator. The personality and voice of the narrator can make or break a book, and Scout’s narration is fantastic. She is a typical tomboy, brought up by her father and brother after the death of her mother, and the fact that she is scorned by all the women of the small Southern village in which they live, told that she should wear dresses and ‘act like a lady,’ makes her all the more loveable as a character.

Her narration also fits the story perfectly, as she narrates the events from the point of view of a child, and so her take on the racial issues of the period are brilliant. The fact that she cannot understand why a black man who has clearly not committed a crime but is still convicted really shows the innocence of a child, and the stupidity of the racial hatred of this period.

I also really liked the other characters in this book. The way that Jem is clearly growing up, changing from the young child that used to play games and invent stories with Scout, is also interesting to read about. Atticus, their father, is also an interesting character, especially when viewed from Scout’s position. He takes on Tom Robinson’s case because he sees it as the right thing to do, despite the hatred it incurs from some of the local people.

Calpurnia, the Finch’s black maid, is also an interesting character. Despite the fact that she works for the family, which represents the suppression of black people in the South, I liked the friendship between Scout and Calpurnia, and the way that Scout sees her as a kind of mother figure after the death of her own mother. The friendship between Calpurnia and Atticus is also interesting to read, and it is clear that, like with other families across the country at this time, the family relies greatly on their maid.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I thought the messages were really profound, and the child humour really adds a light tone to this otherwise serious account of life in the deep South. As a history lover I loved the historical setting of the book, and the role of racism, hypocrisy and growing up is narrated beautifully by Scout. I would definitely recommend this book, and it is both easy to read, and hard-hitting when you consider the injustice of the system at that time. The way the hypocrisy of the attitudes of the people relates to today’s society is also extremely worrying.

Have you read this modern classic? Did you enjoy it? Do you agree with what I’ve said? Let me know all your thoughts- positive and negative- in the comments below!

Happy reading!

Currently reading: ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ by Tennessee Williams

Picture credits here

17 thoughts

  1. Great review! I was first assigned to read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school, either freshman or sophomore year. Even though it was assigned reading, I quickly fell in love with it. I re-read it almost every year. I also read Lee’s “sequel,” titled Go Set A Watchman. I wrote the book review in October 2016. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://hotshotheadlines.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/book-review-19-go-set-a-watchman/

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I also just finished this last month! Yes, the narrative is written nicely and I love the way they portray the society’s concerning issues which are still relevant until today.

    Although I’m not a history-enthusiast, and I lack the knowledge of the Southern life, I still enjoyed the book 🙂

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with all your points. The story, in my opinion, didn’t start picking up the pace until about a quarter way through. But the first part really explored Jem and Scout’s characters in depth. Because of that, their development as the story progresses and tackles the pressing issue of racism is all the more evident.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true, I absolutely love the development of their characters, and of their relationship as siblings… It’s one of those books that doesn’t even need a love interest, because of the friendship the two siblings have. Brilliant points, thanks for dropping by 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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