Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Book 89: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
As part of our Winter Reading Program with the Smyrna Public Library, we were asked to read a book by an author who died in 2012. Harper Lee, one of America’s best known authors, was one of the unfortunate members of the 2012 death club. So I chose To Kill a Mockingbird, which had been sitting on the shelf in the “I regret I’ve never read this” section.
If I ever have another son, the name “Atticus” will probably be in his name somewhere. Atticus the public defender is the definition of stoic - mostly unemotional, able to stand fast in the face of diversity. I instantly liked Atticus, but he’s not someone you’d mess around with.
I’ve seen the movie To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck, and I loved it. Although the book differed slightly from the movie, the premise was the same: Atticus is charged with defending a young Afro-American man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman. With little or no evidence against him, Tom Robinson is convicted and sentenced, while his young family struggles to survive.
Of course, because of the time and place in which this story is set, there was no real chance of a fair trial for Tom. Lee’s fiction account of the trial could very well have been drawn directly from history.
As any of my readers know, character development is the make-it-or-break-it for me. Harper Lee is an absolute master at character development. I could almost reach out and touch his characters.
Reading this as an adult parent rather than a child made this story feel even more grim and significant.
If you read this in high school and are now an adult, pick it up again. It may be a different experience for you now.