There are a handful of modern works of literature that are as frequent in discourse as To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic that even today is considered a specialty.
In the outset, however, I would like to say that for a large chunk of this book, I did not see why. This book is a slow burn, and it took me twice as long to read 150 pages as I usually would.
Having said that, around the halfway point it becomes evident why this book is so beloved, because it turns into something you’d have to be a criminal to put down.
The story follows Atticus Finch, an attorney and father of two, who has been handed the responsibility of defending a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman. This book is set in Alabama in the 1930’s and so this is widely frowned upon. The story is narrated through the eyes of his second child, Jean Louis Finch, or Scout, who grows up from 6 to 8 over the course of the book.
This book was published in 1960, at the height of the civil rights movement, and so the material in this book is indeed ahead of its time. It is a very real reflection of the racism and sexism that was rooted into society and the time, and the setting and choice of narration beautifully complement the book.
The entire book is set in a small town, and there is a profile on almost everyone that lives there. While initially I felt this to be dragging the book along, eventually I did realise that all of this only aids the narrative, as it really demonstrates how different people think similarly while having contrasting views. Having the story be told through a child’s eyes is also something that greatly aids the book, as the issues that are highlighted are not born with a human being, rather imprinted on a human being from a young age. The characters of Scout, Jem (Atticus’ first child) and especially Atticus are grounded in reality, yet are interesting enough to want to know everything about their lives.
Ultimately, this book is one that will forever be in memory, because it is quite simply a work of genius. Nothing in this book is surreal, and that is the most daunting part about it. While I do feel the first half of the book really heaved itself along, there is no doubt in my mind that this a book that does not deserve to be forgotten.
On a scale where M is the lowest and R is the highest possible rating, with the highlighted letter being the rating: