"Before you, Bella, my life was like a moonless night. Very dark, but there were stars, points of light and reason. ...And then you shot across my sky like a meteor. Suddenly everything was on fire; there was brilliancy, there was beauty. When you were gone, when the meteor had fallen over the horizon, everything went black. Nothing had changed, but my eyes were blinded by the light. I couldn’t see the stars anymore. And there was no more reason, for anything."

~ Edward Cullen

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Title: To Kill a Mockingbird
Author: Harper Lee
Pages: 323
Rating: 5/5

Growing up, Friday nights were always family movie night. Up until I started high school and football and basketball games became the norm, my mom, dad, brother and I would pile into the family room with blankets, popcorn and high expectations for the movie ahead. It was on these Fridays that my love for old movies began. Watching the likes of Jane Eyre, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Gone With the Wind, I was introduced to amazing worlds and unforgettable stories. I can remember one particular Friday night that mom was more excited than usual about the movie she had selected for the evening. It was one that she had loved growing up and when she saw it during her shopping she had to get it. Looking at the VHS cover, I wasn't particularly thrilled - the movie was black and white and showed a picture of lawyer. How good could it really be? However, as the opening credits began to play, and a soft voice began to talk about the town of Maycomb I was enthralled. This was my first encounter with the classic story To Kill a Mockingbird.

Over the years, I fell more and more in love with the movie, often watching our worn VHS when I was home sick from school, or on particularly cold winter nights. When I got married 4 and a half years ago, I asked mom for my own copy of the movie that first year for Christmas. To Kill a Mockingbird was always a comfort to me. A gentle reminder of quieter times. However, despite my connections with the movie, I had never once picked up the book. I'd looked at it a few times at the bookstore, and even went as far as buying it a year or two ago, but on my shelves it sat. I'd flip through the pages every so often, but the words "modern classic" would make my head hurt. So many other classics have been started then put away because of their lack of readability and headache inducing. Would To Kill a Mockingbird be any different? In one word, YES.

After reading Sheila's review, and seeing how much she enjoyed the book, I had to give it a try. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, To Kill a Mockingbird was first published in 1960 and quickly became a modern American classic. After doing a bit of research, I found that author Harper Lee loosely based the story on her own family and neighbors as well as a crime that had taken place in a nearby town when Lee was growing up.

Told through the voice of Scout, the young daughter of local lawyer, Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird pulls at the heart strings and leaves the reader in awe. Telling the story of racial injustice in small southern town, the novel also illustrates the loss of innocence among children.
The story centers around the young lives of Scout and Jem Finch, and their widowed father, Atticus. The Finch family resides in the small southern town of Macomb, where they live peacefully among their neighbors including the infamous "Boo" Radley. Rumored to have stabbed his father with a pair of kitchen scissors, Boo never leaves his home, allowing him to become the source of neighborhood gossip and children's wild imaginations. Jem and Scout, along with their friend Dill fill their summers with games of truth and dare, normally involving the Radley house and its occupants but slowly things begin to change. Atticus is appointed to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a young white women. Soon, Jem and Scout begin to feel the repercussions of this decision by not only children but a few adults.
Scout, simply by the nature of work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his life that affects him personally. This one's mine, I guess. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will; you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't let 'em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change...it's a good one even if it does resist learning.

~ To Kill a Mockingbird, Chapter 9

To tell anymore would simply ruin the essence of the story and would rob the reader of too many emotions.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a compelling, intense and emotionally riddled read. I strongly believe that everyone should take the time to read and enjoy every part of this great American novel. I think this novel needs to be required reading in every high school in the US (banned book or not...don't even get me started). I wish that I would have been encouraged to read this when I was younger, as opposed to waiting until I was almost 30 to experience such a rare and special gift. There's not many books that touch me in the same way that this novel has. This will be one that I will read and cherish over and over again. Don't be like me and let the fact that it is a classic scare you away. Take a few minutes, get comfortable in a chair, and let Lee take you away to a warm summer in Alabama. Run the streets with Jem and Scout, and listen to what Atticus has to say.

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