Masterpiece
*****
Excellent
**** 1/2
Very good
****
Good
**** 1/2
Just okay
***
Not for me
**
Definitely not for me
*

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Wow! What a fantastic book. I don’t know why I’ve never read this before. I really thought I already knew what it was about–a girl’s father defending a black man for r*ping a white woman. It is about so much more than that, although of course that plays an important part.

Scout and her family live in Maycomb, Alabama. In the beginning of the book, Scout is going into the 1st grade and her brother Jem is going into 5th. Her father is an attorney, her mother died when she was 2, and her caregiver is a sweet, smart black woman named Calpurnia. The family relationship among all members is strong–very strong. Scout and Jem play together at home (but not in school–Jem insists). Scout and her father always read together in the evenings. This is a point of contention with Scout’s teacher Miss Caroline. Some of my favorite passages come from this section and they are hilarious to me as a former teacher who now homeschools.

The teacher asks if anyone knows what the alphabet is, and then. . .

…as I read the alphabet a faint line appeared between her eyebrows, and after making me read most of My First Reader and the stock-market quotations from the Mobile Register aloud, she discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading. [...] “Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take over from here and try to undo the damage–”

The Dewey Decimal System consisted, in part, of Miss Caroline waving cards at us on which were printed “the,” “cat,” “rat,” “man,” and “you.” No comment seemed to be expected of us, and the class received these impressionistic revelations in silence. I was bored, so I began a letter to Dill. Miss Caroline caught me writing and told me to tell my father to stop teaching me. “Besides, she said. “We don’t write in the first grade, we print. You won’t learn to write until you’re in the third grade.”

…as I inched sluggishly along the treadmill of the Maycomb County school system, I could not help receiving the impression that I was being cheated out of something. Out of what I knew not, yet I did not believe that twelve years of unrelieved boredom was exactly what the state had in mind for me.

I don’t want to give away too much of the story, so from here I’ll be brief. Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill (said to have been inspired by Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote) spend a lot of time together in the summer trying to see Boo Radley, a neighbor who is a recluse. In fact, they are obsessed with this endeavor. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, takes on the r*pe case. The fallout from the case is felt by the Finches from the community as well as from their extended family. The book ends well, though, with a very satisfying conclusion.

To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 and was made into an Academy Award winning film starring Gregory Peck. It is the only novel Harper Lee ever published.

I listened to parts of this book on Audio CD read by Sissy Spacek. Highly recommended.

Caution: There are a few curse words and adult themes in the book. I would recommend this book for high school level and up.

1960, 281 pp.
Pulitzer Prize 1961

Rating: 5

Also reviewed by:

Thursday Thirteen #3

13 books in 13 different consecutive decades that I have read or plan to read in 2007:

01. 2000′s – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
02. 1990′s – The Hours by Michael Cunningham
03. 1980′s – The Color Purple by Alice Walker
04. 1970′s – Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
05. 1960′s – The Black Pearl by Scott O’Dell
06. 1950′s – A Death in the Family by James Agee
07. 1940′s – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
08. 1930′s – The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlins
09. 1920′s – Alice Adams by Booth Tarkington
10. 1910′s – O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
11. 1900′s – Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
12. 1890′s – Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13. 1880′s – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert L. Stevenson

View other Thursday Thirteen participants here.

Comments brought over from other blog:
15 comments:
Wacky Mommy said…
Thanks for the list!
February 14, 2007 11:46 PM

Rashenbo said…
Isn’t the color purple just a great book? Thank you for sharing this list… I love lists about books.
February 14, 2007 11:47 PM

Laughing Muse said…
I’ve read The Black Pearl (years ago) and had to read O Pioneers! in American Lit. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as My Antonia, but it was good.
February 15, 2007 12:09 AM

Miranda said…
Great list!Hmmm…I saw the movie The Color Purple. It was good, Im sure the book is better.Happy TT!
February 15, 2007 12:28 AM

Frances said…
The Color Purple is an outstanding book.I’m looking forward to checking in for reviews.Thanks for sharingHappy Thursday
February 15, 2007 1:44 AM

Raggedy said…
Some great reads in there.Terrific Thursday Thirteen!My TT is posted.Have a wonderful day!Happy TT’ing!*^_^(=’:'=) (“)_ (“)Š Raggedy
February 15, 2007 4:24 AM

Robyn Mills said…
I’ve read, 3,6,7,8,12,13, you’ll enjoy them.. I’ll look out the others. Great TT
February 15, 2007 5:51 AM

Caylynn said…
Great list of books. :) I love reading. :) The Yearling was a great book. Enjoy all your reading!Happy T13. :)
February 15, 2007 7:41 AM

Uisce said…
a very interesting approach to reading! ooh and some great ideas in there. I’ll definitely add some of those to my list. I’ll finish the book I’m reading tonight, in fact! happy TT, mine’s up!
February 15, 2007 8:26 AM

Lisa said…
I’ve read three of yours. My Thursday Thirteen is also about books today, and is also my third T13. Now I’m going to have to browse the rest of your blog to see what else we have in common.
February 15, 2007 12:11 PM

The Gal Herself said…
Alice Adams! Thanks for reminding me of that book! I read it decades ago and thought it was a lovely throw back to another time. I wonder if I’d get more out of it now that I’m … well … no longer a shallow teenage brat.
February 15, 2007 1:03 PM

YellowRose said…
Very good reading list!!!Happy TT!
February 15, 2007 4:50 PM

ravaj said…
isn’t it interesting (well to me at least!) how many of these books have been made into movies?eg 2,3,7.8.9.11,12,13happy tt!
February 15, 2007 5:27 PM

Ms. George said…
A great list. Mine is all about books too. I read all but two of your books on the list. But then again, I am an English Teacher and a certifiable geek.
February 15, 2007 9:36 PM

Lara said…
wow, good list. unfortunately, i’ve never *actually* read any of those, though my high school english teacher thinks i’ve read both “heart of darkness” and “tess of the d’urbervilles”. and now i’m an english teacher. oh, the irony… ;) happy TT! :)
February 15, 2007 10:49 PM