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Jul 16, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: To Kill a Mockingbird

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

As some of yTo Kill a Mockingbirdou may or may not be aware, this year marks the 50th anniversary of a landmark in literature. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was originally published in 1960, has sold millions of copies worldwide, and is a staple in the American high school curriculum. I personally read this book in 6th grade when it was recommended to me by my public librarian. She knew I loved reading outside the "norm" for my age group and thought it would be a suitable fit. Boy did she know me well.

To Kill a Mockingbird starts out by introducing the reader to the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. Middle-aged, widowed Atticus Finch is a local lawyer and the father of two very rambunctious children, Jem & Scout. The children spend most of their time entertaining themselves by sharing ghost stories & rumors about the elusive "Boo" Radley, a neighbor who is never seen outside of his house, but who has managed to leave gifts for the children in a tree.

The narrative takes a serious turn when Atticus is chosen to defend Tom Robinson, a poor, black man, against the charges of rape from Mayella Ewell, a young, white woman. Tensions rise all around town as the racial charged atmosphere escalates. When the trial is over, things start to settle back down, but the plaintiff's father won't let the issue fade. He does something drastic that changes everyone's perspective.

I absolutely adored this book! I feel that using Scout as the narrator adds a sort of accessibility that would be lacking from any other point of view. The issues handled are very heavy and one could get lost in them, but with Scout's carefree childhood experiences mixed in, the novel is broken up into more manageable parts.

Scout was my hero as a kid. Between stepping up for what she knew was right and befriending the neighborhood recluse, she was absolutely perfect. Never one to whine, Scout was a well-defined heroine in a book whose only other female lead was representing the evil in the book. Atticus was also a great guy. A man struggling with what's best for his family, but also with what's right in the eyes of equality. Depression-era Southern states were notoriously dangerous territory for anyone with a progressive thought process.

The setting, morals, and plot were incredible and it's no wonder that this book is so timeless. While many other books dealing with racism & discrimination are falling out of favor due to their inaccessibility, To Kill a Mockingbird is actually experiencing a resurgence of appreciation. If you've never read it, I would highly recommend it. Not to mention, right now there are probably groups of people getting together to celebrate it's 50th anniversary. In local libraries, bookclubs, and book stores around the country, people are having cover re-design contests, discussing the book, and just generally celebrating the awesome that is To Kill a Mockingbird.

When did you read this FABULOUS novel? If you haven't, are you thinking about it now? :)

1 comment:

Super said...

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird as a senior in high school about 7 years ago. I fell in love with the book and it is still my favorite to this day!