I can officially add To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee to list of books that I should have read many years ago (looking at you high school english classes) but have finally read on my own. This was prompted partly by the fact that Go Set a Watchman was recently published with quite a bit of hullabaloo surrounding the release. This piqued my curiosity just enough for me to get off my butt and read To Kill A Mockingbird so I’m not completely lost when I finally see what all the fuss was about with Go Set a Watchman. I must say To Kill A Mockingbird exceeded any and all expectations I had going in and has made me incredibly hopeful for Go Set a Watchman.
Part of the charm of this book, for me, was that it’s told from the perspective of Scout, who is recounting stories from her childhood. This gives the reader and narrator the benefit of retrospect while remembering the innocence with which all the events were lived. I always love intense, adult themes told from the perspective of a child because it is always such a raw honest view on what took place. Children haven’t built up prejudices and biases to shade their perspective. They see the facts and remember the golden rules. This becomes apparent several times throughout To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout will see something that she doesn’t completely understand and because she asks a seemingly simple question the adults are forced to take a step back and look at their actions and motivations with a more critical eye.
Part of why it’s a little bit astonishing to me that this book has never once come up on any curriculum for me is because it covers so many themes that it would be a great book to have a discussion about. Racism, classism, sexism, the justice system, and the education system are just some of the topics explored and picked apart by the characters in To Kill A Mockingbird. What’s nice about how these topics are broached is that there is very little black and white. There are bad people but there’s always someone reminded Scout and her brother that some people are bad because they’ve been put in tough circumstances and not been given the tools to deal with it. There’s a lot of gray area in the world and this book not only acknowledges the gray area but unpacks it and hangs it out to dry.
I’m so glad to have finally read this book and absolutely recommend to everybody. I’m very excited to check out Go Set a Watchman, which, from what I understand, is a story of Scout when she’s older and coming home to visit. At the very least it will give me a chance to revisit the lovely characters from To Kill a Mockingbird.