To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Classic #6)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Classic #6)

Shelved: Classic
Published: 11th July 1960
Rating: ★★★★★
Challenge: Classics Challenge – #6 / Re-Read Challenge – #1
Buy: Hive
More: Goodreads

Here’s my sixth post for the 2015 Classics Challenge (and technically my first post for the Re-Read Challenge)!  It’s not too late to join me (and 190+ other people) in reading one classic per month.

Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of this classic novel – a black man charged with attacking a white girl. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores the issues of race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s with compassion and humour. She also creates one of the great heroes of literature in their father, whose lone struggle for justice pricks the conscience of a town steeped in prejudice and hypocrisy.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in August 2010 and was looking forward to coming back to it nearly five years later. It was one of the few classics I had read at that point (although I was doing well that summer, having also just read A Clockwork Orange and The Great Gatsby). I’m not sure how I discovered it. It’s another classic that I feel I’ve always known, but photos and quotes from the book kept popping up on Tumblr, so perhaps that’s what spurred me to read it for the first time.

WHY I Chose to Read It
I have wanted to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird for a while (and it’s about time I picked up a book for the Re-Read Challenge!). I picked it to be my June classic because I wanted to make sure I read ahead of Go Set a Watchman, the newly discovered sequel set 20 years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ll also be watching the film adaptation this evening!

WHAT Makes It A Classic
Even if you’re already aware of the tensions that occurred in the Deep South during the 1930s (and continued through to the 1970s), To Kill a Mockingbird brings history to life in a compassionate and memorable way.

To Kill a Mockingbird is part coming-of-age novel and part cautionary tale about race and class, and the injustice that often comes with it. It’s an example of how foolish – and certainly persistent – prejudice is, especially when two young children can see the absurdity of it more than their adult counterparts. Even so, Scout and Jem are guilty of making judgements about people themselves and are taught to recognise this by their father, Atticus Finch.

To Kill a Mockingbird still has a lot of offer 50 years after publication. From the mystery surrounding Boo Radley and seeing Scout and Jem begin to better understand the intentions of the people in their small-town community, to the powerful case of Tom Robinson and the defense trial spearheaded by Atticus Finch, it still packs an emotional punch.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I am relieved to say that I loved it even more than when I read it the first time. I am always worried that I won’t enjoy a book the second time around, especially if it’s a favourite. But thankfully To Kill a Mockingbird holds its own.

As I read many more children’s books now than I did five years ago, I appreciated and enjoyed Scout’s voice even more, although she was always my favourite character. She vividly retells the events in To Kill a Mockingbird as an adult, reflecting upon them as experienced as a young child. I love Scout’s curiosity, humour and confidence, and I adore her complex and thoughtful relationships with everyone around her. I enjoy inquisitive characters and Scout rarely accepts what she’s told as fact – especially when it’s demanded that she has to stop reading and writing!

Even thought I already knew the outcome of To Kill a Mockingbird, it didn’t stop me from hoping and feeling the frustration and injustice that is felt by Atticus, Scout, Jem and Dill. It didn’t stop me from being unable to put the book down.

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing”.

WILL It Stay A Classic
I do hope so. It’s just turned 55 years old, so it’s still a ‘young’ classic, but I doubt (sadly) that many of its lessons will stop being relevant in the future. My only worry is that Go Set a Watchman won’t live up to its predecessor, but I’m still looking forward to heading back to Maycomb. You can read the first chapter here.

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

WHO I’d Recommend It To
People who love books from the point of view of a child. People who love Taylor Swift (because it’s her favourite book!). People who want to delve into modern classics. People who love history.

Have you signed up to the 2015 Classics Challenge?

9 thoughts on “To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Classic #6)

  1. […] Heights by Emily Brontë ★★★★ • Goodreads • Buy To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Re-Read) ★★★★★ • […]

  2. It’s funny, but as much as I read (and have all my life), there are several classics that seemed to get missed. Yet, I have read some classics over and over again. Anyway, TKAM was one of those I had never read. I imagine that in high school, I would have hated it. But as a middle age woman I loved it when I finally read it last week. I read it in preparation for Watchman coming out but now I’m hearing all sorts of negative things about Watchman. I will still read it but I doubt I will like it nearly as much as I did TKAM.

  3. This was a wonderful review! I’m planning on reading this book this month, so I’m so glad to have read your review recently before I jump into it!

  4. Yay! I love this book so much, so I’m glad you enjoyed rereading it as well!

  5. I’m iffy about Go Set a Watchman because of the first chapter and how Atticus is depicted on it. Atticus has been a hero of mine – I want to be a lawyer and he’s one of my lawyer idols, along with Elle Woods, LOL – and it kind of hurts to see the real and original side of him.

    This article perfectly set encapsulates my feelings about Go Set a atchman: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11734978/Why-I-wont-be-reading-Go-Set-a-Watchman.html

    Anyway, high five from a fellow To Kill a Mockingbird lover, Stacey!

  6. I love this book and I was so disappointed to hear that Atticus Finch is racist in Go Set a Watchman. I am in two minds now whether to read it. On one hand I like to find these things out for myself and not just trust someone else’s opinion. But on the other hand, if it is true I don’t want to ruin my memory of this book and its characters. Such a conundrum…

  7. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favourite books! I reread it a few weeks ago for the first time since early high school, and I agree with you, it’s even better the second time round. Here’s my thoughts on doing the reread: http://lectito.me/2015/06/04/rewind-to-kill-a-mockingbird-by-harper-lee/
    Very nervous/excited to get stuck into Go Set a Watchman. 🙂

  8. What a beautiful edition!

  9. I’ve always wanted to read this book, but never have? Maybe I’ll give it a shot?

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