Author: Harper Lee
Year I read it: 2005
One sentence summary: "Scout" Finch, a young tomboy, is growing up in southern Alabama when her father, attorney Atticus Finch, decides, against town sentiments, to represent a black man accused of raping a white girl, giving Scout and her brother, Jem, a harsh introduction to prejudices, racism, and misconstrued "justice."
Interesting fact: In December of 1956, author & producer Michael Brown gave Harper Lee a gift: a year's worth of wages with a note that said, "You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas." She wrote To Kill a Mockingbird - the only novel she published. [I think this is one of the best Christmas presents I've ever heard of, and I think we all owe him a "Thank You" note.]
Three reasons to read it:
- Atticus Finch - without a doubt, one of the greatest fathers in print (or on screen). He represents so much of what a father should be: patient, caring, and modeling virtues like true justice to his children.
- This book is offers a hard, but significant perspective on racism. Lee based much of Scout's view on what her own childhood was like, growing up surrounded by racial prejudice, but just emerging to realize how wrong it was.
- Like I mentioned with Room, Lee finds a way to address a very difficult subject by approaching it from a child's point-of-view. In doing so, she causes her audience to dial back into each person's innate sense of justice. It's a very powerful technique.
One reason you maybe shouldn't:
- Not appropriate for very young children, but above 13 or so, highly recommended!
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what."
“The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.”
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”
"Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”