To Kill a Mockingbird: The Greatest?

To Kill a Mockingbird
By: Harper Lee
Best for: 14 and up

The Great American Novel

Wow. So many thoughts.

I loved to read when I was teenager, but I hated when teachers told me WHAT to read. I suspect that’s the real reason why I’m One Man Book Club. I joke it’s because no girls will let me join their book clubs, but it’s really because I don’t want other people telling me what to read.

I know, I know. I roll my eyes at me, too.

That’s why I have a memory of To Kill a Mockingbird, but I don’t remember To Kill a Mockingbird. A teacher told me to read it, so I did everything I could to NOT.

I was clearly an idiot. How would I be different today if I’d allowed To Kill a Mockingbird to touch me then?

You don’t review books like this. You just tell how they made you feel.

To Kill a Mockingbird made me feel sad about our shared history. It made me want our shared future to be one we are proud of.

I usually say Jean ValJean is my favorite literary character, but I think I might need to make room for Atticus Fitch in the discussion. Here’re a few reasons why:

Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.

“Atticus, he was real nice. . . .” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Using the child Scout as a narrator was brilliant, and her innocence delivers the book’s powerful message in a way an adult voice never could have. How, how, how did this book get published in 1960, win the Pulitzer in 1961, and get made into an Academy Award winning film in 1963 starring the biggest actor of the day right and NOT have an impact? This was happening in the middle of most significant events of the The Civil Rights Movement. What did people say about To Kill a Mockingbird? Did it influence the thinking of the day? Did it help the cause? If I could go back in time…

All I can say is To Kill a Mockingbird deserves it’s place in history. I find no fault in anyone who wants to call it THE Great American Novel. It just might be.

It’s a wonderful reading experience. Parents might want to know the book deals with strong racism and poverty in the depression era of the 1930s. The N-word is used frequently. There is discussion of rape. This dad says it’s best for 14 and up, and should be required reading.

Happy Reading.

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