Thursday, September 24, 2015

Throwback Thursday: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Lesley Anne and I are life-long readers; that is, we have loved reading our whole lives. Sure, we played football at recess with the boys, but we also had at least 4 books checked out from our school library at all times. We thought a fun way to showcase the books that solidified our love of literature at a young age is to put a bookish twist on the ever-popular Throwback Thursday meme. If you, too, started your love affair with books as soon as you learned to read, you will probably recognize a lot of these titles. If your love of reading was something acquired later in life, you might have missed these gems. These books are near and dear to our hearts in a special way; it is through them we first learned the hidden power of words and imagination. The beauty of these books is that they remain just as wonderful to re-read as an adult. Ahh, the power of nostalgia. :)

The Vitals

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Release Date: 1960
Page Count: 324
Genre: Fiction (Classic)
Target Audience: Young Adult/Adult
Series: No
Source and Format: Purchased; Paperback
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (From Goodreads)
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Notes on To Kill a Mockingbird
I read this novel for the first time in 9th grade in Mrs. Smith's English class. Having just re-read it in preparation for Go Set a Watchman, I am now of the firm opinion that every person who loved this as a child/teenager needs to re-read it as an adult. Seriously. If you have not read this book since high school English, do yourself a favor and become acquainted with it as an adult.

I had a hard time reading this book in high school. It was the first time I was made aware, or rather made to deal with, the fact that life is supremely unfair at times. It was the first time I really grasped the subtlety of hate and ignorance. It was my first understanding of racism. It is a book that has stuck with me for a long time. 

Reading it as an adult was just as hard as reading it as a fourteen year old. There was so much in there that I did not have the ability to understand before. The core of the story was the same, but the characters took on different dimensions. I found myself not really liking Scout at all. Jem was a much more multifaceted character with depth I did not see before (he would have made a much more compelling narrator). Atticus is much more wise than I knew; not simply good or uncompromising (in the best sense of the word) but wise to the multitude of currents that are swirling around him, his children, and his town. And I seemed to have completely forgotten Miss Maudie altogether. I think she is my favorite now. 

I cannot sum up the unique beauty of this novel sufficiently, so I am not going to try. Go read it for yourself. It is just as thought-provoking the second time around as the first. I am positive that the third time will be the same. It is even more timely now as the South is struggling with how to deal with its past. It captures perfectly how no one or no history is two-dimensional. The same neighbor that would condemn Tom Robinson also would have commended Boo Radley for his actions. This complexity is why the South is so wonderful and so frustrating at the same time... as am I. As are you. 

Atticus's Words of Wisdom
“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.”

“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.”

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em.”

“It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”

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