I feel like I could write a whole paper on TKAM 🙂 but I’ll keep it short and sweet.
Done. So glad I re-read this book after so many years! I read it in school back in the day. And I had a much different reaction to it than I did this time around. Back then, I was like, okay, this book is alright. I liked the story overall, but didn’t spend too much time dissecting it. Being forced to read it for school did not elevate it in my eyes. Now, reading it as an older person, I definitely enjoyed it more. I understand the book a lot more now, and I appreciate all of the nuances.
I can not review the book without drawing similarities between Harper Lee and Margaret Mitchell, To Kill A Mocking Bird and Gone With the Wind. I won’t go into too much depth and write an essay, but I feel like there are a lot of similarities between the two ladies as authors, and between the novels. That fascinates me, because I enjoy holding up books I love to each other. Both shared enormous success with their one and only novels, both winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, albeit 25 years apart. They both welcomed success for their literature, but shunned the public spotlight until their deaths. Both novels were adapted into hugely popular films that helped elevate the books in the public conscious even further. Both wrote during “timely” times in America, and wrote about timely issues in their novels about people and communities in the South. Both used their personal stories and lives to animate their books, often drawing characters, places, and action from their real-lives. Many more similarities, but fascinating all the same for me personally.
I feel like the beginning 1/3 of the book is kind of slow and boring for me. Initially, I like when Jem, Scout and then Dill, are fascinated with Boo Radley and all of their hell-raising schemes. But, I got kind of bored of that chapter after chapter. Once that part is past, pacing and action picks up for me, and my enjoyment level goes up.
I really enjoy the story being told from a young girl’s perspective. I find that to be unique. I think that is a big part of the enjoyment for me. My only complaint with that is that when adult themes and issues come up, Scout reports on them from her vantage point of immaturity, which sort of glosses over the seriousness of the issues for me. I do not like at all that Scout and Jem have to frequently “listen in” and “eavesdrop” on the action for the action to be told to the reader. That is a limitation of a young child narrator, in my opinion. But, all of that is minor and does not detract from the overall enjoyment and importance of the novel.
Reading TKAM as an adult, I understand a lot more of the literary devices HL uses. The symbolism, the foreshadowing. All those things that I love in a novel.
My favorite thing about the book is probably the characters and relationships. HL does a great job with her main characters, really fleshing them out and bringing them to life. The psychology of characters is usually my #1 favorite thing about a fiction novel, so HL really captures that for me. I really enjoy the relationships in the book, on a micro level of family, and on a macro level of community. Relationships in fiction novels are probably my #2 favorite thing about them. Again, HL hits the nail on the head with that.
Glad I read it, glad I have this book in my library. Is it my favorite book of all time? No. I’m too much of a romantic for that. But, it’s up there in it’s literary greatness for me.