I don’t tend to do many classic reviews, generally because I honestly haven’t read that many of them, but I thought I should remedy that by doing a review of this book, that I know many people studied in school. I didn’t, and I don’t think I will for at least a few years, so I went into this book completely on my own. And I really did enjoy it. I thought that all of the characters were incredibly vivid and engaging – even the characters who were awful human beings. The plot was very interesting, and I found the writing style to be very easy to follow and understand. The message of this book is a really lovely one and a very current message I think, about being better, kinder human beings which is something we should all strive for. This book was quite a slow read for me, but maybe that was because I had just read Winter and the two types of story-telling are very different. Still, this was a very good read and I am very glad that I have finally read it.
Jean Louise Finch aka Scout lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small, close-knit town, and every family has its social station depending on where they live, who their parents are, and how long their ancestors have lived in Maycomb. A widower, Atticus raises his children by himself, with the help of kindly neighbors and a black housekeeper named Calpurnia. Scout and Jem spend much of their time with their neighbors nephew Dill and spying on their reclusive and mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley becomes part of their regular games. When Atticus, their widowed father and a respected lawyer, defends a black man named Tom Robinson against fabricated rape charges, the trial and tangent events expose the children to evils of racism and stereotyping.
I think that my favourite character in this book was Scout – or Jean Louise. She was such a enthusiastic, intelligent and friendly child and I could really relate to her as a character. I also loved the character of Atticus, and I thought that he was a really brilliant father figure to Scout and Jem, because he is so patient and caring. Another one of my favourite characters was that of Miss Maudie, because she was so honest and open and didn’t care what anyone thought of her. All of the characters in this book are so clearly developed and identifiable and I loved how every single one of them brought their own opinions and views and outlooks on life, just like any normal group of people in our society. Every character in this book had hidden motives and other reasons for acting the way they do, and most of them are fueled from prejudice and stereotyping.
The actual story started out quite slow but once I was fully immersed in the plot, I just wanted to find out more. This definitely wasn’t a read-in-one-sitting kind of book, at least for me, but some parts of the book – particularly in the middle – had me hooked and fully engaged. Something else I liked was how we got little clues as to how Scout’s life in Maycomb fit in with everything else that was happening in the world. With hints to Civil Wars and Hitler and Presidents, this book really felt like a chronicle of this little town in Alabama. Because this book is from the point of view of a child, it’s really refreshing to see her discovering everything that makes up adult life – wars and murders and racism towards others – and how Atticus’s parenting has prevented her and Jem from becoming awful human beings, unlike some other members of the town.
This book was a really eye-opening read for me and for the message and the characters alone, I’m giving it a 4 out of 5 stars. Some moments in this book lagged and I lost interest but those were rather few and far between – on the whole, this was a charming and engaging story with a really important message.
PS – I hope you guys are having a fantastic Christmas!