486 of 511 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 2006
Before I start this review I want to say that I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a brilliant novel and it easily gets five stars. This review is of this book specifically. I happen to have both this edition and an older version printed in the 70s, and I'm afraid they seem to have strangely edited it. A couple of bits are cut out for no apparant reason - pages 191 and 280 - and I really can't fathom why they did it. The old version is far better. Footlights is changed to floodlights, another really weird and miniscule change which I know doesn't make any difference whatsoever, but why the hell did they change it in the first place? There are loads of misprints also, which don't appear in the older version. I know that normal people (unlike me) won't care, but I'd really advise you to buy a different edition if you can find one, as the changes on 191 and 280 are quite major, and neither of the changes are improvements. I want to repeat that I think the book itself is brilliant and deserves five stars, but get a different edition.
290 of 310 people found the following review helpful
on 17 March 2003
I must have read this story at least five times in the two or so years since I first picked up a copy, sometimes returning right back to the start after closing the book. I only wish I could remain immersed in Harper Lee's bygone age and beautifully crafted characters, and not have to reach that last page.
The main thread of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is the trial of a black man, the symbolic 'mockingbird' of the title, who is accused of raping a white woman, but I much prefer the subtext of a widower father struggling to raise his children with the correct values in a deeply prejudiced society. The story is told through the eyes of the eight year old daughter, 'Scout', which at once paints a more honest picture of events whilst presenting a biased opinion of the central adult protagonist. Whether or not Scout is blinded by love for her father, Atticus Finch is probably one of the most heroic characters in fiction, and a role model for fathers everywhere. Although the trial itself is a tense moment in the story, and educational from a historical point of view, it is the Finch family dynamic that has made me so attached to this story. The first part of the book, when the children are younger and still relatively blind to the world that surrounds them, provides the most enjoyable reading.
I don't know whether it is a good or bad thing that Harper Lee has only written this one story, because I doubt 'To Kill A Mockingbird' could be surpassed. Scout's narration presents both a child's world in adult terms, and an adult world from a child's point of view, providing much comic relief amidst the drama and heartfelt emotion.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2015
Scout Finch is our young protagonist in this coming of age story during the Great Depression. She lives with her father, Atticus and older brother Jem. Their mother died when Scout was only two years old. The two kids befriend Dill, a youngster who spends his summers in the neighborhood of Maycomb, Alabama. They play well together, and one of their favorite games is playacting the reclusive Radley family. The Radley place is very spooky, made even spookier with the retelling of stories about the family. The kids begin to find small little ‘gifts’ in the knothole of a tree on the Radley property.
Atticus is a lawyer and they are doing fairly well compared to many during the depression. The community is primarily white, and neighbors are shocked when Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who’d been accused of raping a white woman. He is held in a local jail as the trial begins and a mob forms as people have their minds set and want to hang him.
Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1961 for To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the only book published by Harper Lee until now. On July 14, there will be a long-awaited sequel called Go Set a Watchman. I liked all the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird and I loved the strength shown by Atticus and how he influenced his two children in the face of opposition. The beginning was fun – children will be children after all. Their antics, although not admirable, were fairly innocent. This is wonderfully told historical fiction set in the Deep South during one of the hardest times America has gone through.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2010
As an avid reader, with a very catholic taste in books, this novel has always been a huge favourite of mine. I first read it as a teenager, and loved it without really fully understanding it's depth.
The storyline is both simple and at the same time complex, and I have come back to it several times over the years.
I love being read to, even as a very grown up woman!! So when I saw that Sissy Spacek had recorded it, I just had to buy it. And WOW..!!
This lady reads it so well, you are there, living in the Deep South, with Scout and Jem. I have many Audio Books, but I have yet to hear one read SO brilliantly. If you are thinking of perhaps buying it, I urge you to do so, you will have hours of pleasure to look forward to.
168 of 184 people found the following review helpful
on 8 August 2007
I first read this book when I was very young, too young to understand it, and then again when I was at school. But this is one of those books that becomes more profound, more accessible and more relevant the more you read it.
On the surface, it is a tale of racial prejudice in the search for justice, but in fact the story goes beyond that. It is about all prejudices, about the importance of walking around in someone else's shoes in order to truly understand them. Jem and Scout are delightfully child-like, and the effect of a hindsight narrative only adds to the many layers to be found here. Atticus Finch is the man to beat all men - he is the ideal father, the ideal man. He stands for justice, for righteousness and for "fighting back", even when you know you have lost. He is the ideal against which all men should be measured.
This is the most brilliant story of one community's injustice in small-town America, the consequences of which resonate throughout society at large. There has never been (and can never be) another "To Kill a Mockingbird", and the most amazing thing about this novel is that it can be read, re-read and read again generation after generation, and its magic only ever increases. A must-have in your collection!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 7 June 2013
If i was to describe this book, that is probably what I'd say. But this is what Amazon says
'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the thirties. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.
When beginning this book i was a bit like meh. its alright. It wasn't so gripping, but it was intruiging. I have not read an actual American classic, and i do this the dialect did actually make me want to read it, i think i read it in a southern /texas accent (i think thats the one im thinking of). The book begins with the main protagonist Jean Louis Finch, also known as Scout. The book doesn't have a particular plot in my opinion. it exploits judgment, namecalling and it praises those who have the decency to not follow that crowd. The message i got from this book was probably, 'no matter what happens, no matter how much stuff you may go through, you do NOT have the right to judge other people. Life isn't there for you to obsess on trivial matters. Respect those around you, respect the ones of a different color, a different age, a different gender, a different background. Because as Harper Lee says: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it"'
The point that touched me is the fact that Scout is SO young. she's 8. Yet she's so intelligent, so smart, sure of herself and confident despite the world she lives in. Her brother Jem, another stron character who faces the loss of his mother alongside people in the neighbourhood. He like Scout are stubborn and motivated to do the right thing enforced by their father Atticus. Now Atticus? where do we meet lawyers in the real world who WANT to do the right thing without incrimination. Without caring what is said. Harper Lee has bound together probably the strongest family bond i have seen. Racism is a huge deal today as it was then. Terrorists, Murderers, Rapists they're everywhere. The only thing thats probably changed in society is the amount of people who stand up to it. Yeah people have become more confident in sharing their voice. But the media makes an ordeal out of control. This influences many young people to pretty much go out and do exactly what they see, may it be as small as drinking underage, to religious extremists. Like the Finch family, every individual is influenced by what they see. The victim in Atticus' case was treated like a human by Tom the 'black man'. She appreciated this until she made physical contact with him. See a person can think bad things all they want, they can think of good things and evil things. but it is only when you act upon them you realise the extent of significance an action may have upon you and others.
Being indian myself, i have never actually experienced a racism attack upon myself. I live in an multicultural environment. I have black, white, muslim and sikh friends. But that is not what makes them my friends. The person itself is the only thing that should be important....which i think is what Ms. Lee is trying to say. Having this viewpoint seen through the eyes of an 8 year old is horrendous. I like how Scout is still an innocent bystander, yeah she hears her father being racially insulted. But she acts upon the fact her father is laughed upon rather than 'loving' another colour. Which she later understands. Another situation is when she hears about a classmate. she says he is poor, but too proud to borrow money. she then goes on to hurt him. and only when the teacher is annoyed by her defending of this child (funny how shes got the skills of a lawyer in her haha). She is unable to understand violence cannot resolve a matter, nor did she understand by explaining his situation she probably was well appreciated. but Atticus and Jem are key characters to her development and to her understanding
At one point in the book Miss Maudie (a neighbor) suggests 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corn cribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' This point is significnt, in fact the whole title is. When Tom Robinson dies his death is 'likened...to the senseless slaught of songbirds by hunters and children'. the connection between the two is brutal, yet in my eyes it makes the novel. Tom Robinson is a mockinbird...actually no the colour of the skin is the mockingbird and the hunters and the children are those who agree with racism. The skin is the thing that doesnt eat gardens or nest in corncribs. it is the person who will sing their heart out and make music. In other words skin doesn't affect any thing, however a persons ability and attitude is the only thing we should focus on to question them/dislike them/like them. In other words, if their song is bad, they're bad people.
So i really did adore this book. and i think you should definatley check it out. Do not be put of by the 'classic' read aspect of it. Its pretty 'normal' in the sense that its readable no 'thy' 'thou' or 'shalt' aha. Definatley a recommendation
Has anyone read this? what are your thoughts
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 1 August 2010
I read this book while on holiday and had a bit of trouble to begin with it... It is one of those books that is so well written and has so many insights that you really have to be paying attention whist reading (hard when travelling).
The book only really starts in earnest around about a third of the way in, so you have to be a little patient to get to the crux of the matter (admittedly I don't read blurbs so didn't know what direction the book was going to take).
However, once underway, this book is a pearl of wisdom and humanity. The story of Scout and her family is simply stunning in its scope. By adopting to tell the story from a child's point-of-view, Lee has been able to deal with profound topics about humanity and injustice in a way that is accessible, funny and highly engaging.
The standout areas for me revolved around Atticus' explanations and empathy for others. I'm trying to adjust some of my thinking in my life based on what I've read in this book. Thoughts, like the fact we can and should try to put ourselves in others peoples shoes are so well explained.
For me, this book could be thought studied as a form of philosophy; the core principles revolving around empathy and pacifism. In today's world of terrorism and Pre-emptive Wars I wish more politicians (who've probably read this book) would go back to it adopt Harper Lee's doctrine.
I am not usually one to re-read books (after all, I'll never get through all the books I still want to read in this lifetime) but I suspect that this book will become one exception. There are so many treasures, insights and nuggets of wisdom that I didn't quite capture in my first read. Highly, highly recommended.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Harper Lee was encouraged to write some of her childhood memories. What in the beginning seems like the story of three childhood friends in depression era Macomb, Alabama, turns out to be packed with insights to the makeup of human kind.
This story is intriguing on many levels from the history of the area to the stereotyping of people. Most of all every turn was a surprise as told in the first person from the view of Scout Finch. And instead of telling the story in a six year old vocabulary she uses an exceptionally large repertoire to describe the people and events. This story is not as slow passed as one may guess from first glance as every remark and every action will be needed for a future action.
A major controversial part of the story is the trial of Tom Robinson. Hoverer this is just a catalyst to help Scout understand the nature of people including her father Atticus and you will find that as important as it is it is just a part of the story with other major characters such as Arthur "Boo" Radley.
Even thought it appears that Scout is the recipient of the insights, I believe we the reader is the real recipient.
I can truly say that this book has changed my outlook in life.
To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector's Edition)
Harper Lee (Up Close)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2012
This fine work written in the 1960s and set in the 1930s certainly lives up to its billing as a classic and for me `bucket lister' (a must read before one's own death) and in its depiction of prejudice, loss of innocence and natural justice is as relevant today as it ever was.
Lee creates an incredibly tangible Southern US town, populated by brilliantly drawn, real people. She painstakingly describes the climate, flora and fauna and setting of her native Alabama, drawing the reader in so they can taste the dry, dusty summer air and experience the odour of pecans and scuppernongs.
It is in its depiction of prejudice and a few good men's (one in particular's) stand against it that this novel is rightly remembered. Besides the primary theme of racism it also cleverly examines through subplots the notions of class prejudice, the urban- rural divide and the role of ignorance. Social division, alienation and isolation are portrayed at times humorously and at others poignantly but always with warmth and humanity.
Like `The Catcher in the Rye' this book is also a moving account of the painful passage from innocent childhood to cynical adulthood, in which the child's innate sense of fairness and justice is mediated by reality and societal pressures. Fortunately adulthood is saved by the moral lighthouse that is Atticus Finch, who's compassion and sense of justice is unperturbed by threat of injury to himself. His selfless need to do the right thing shines a beacon of reason through the darkness of ignorance, poverty and prejudice and demonstrates how an individual can make a difference and begin to turn the tide.
So long as there are human beings, the shadow of prejudice will forever lie just beneath the surface of even the most apparently civilised society and thus there will always be need for an Atticus Finch. This inspirational novel is a clarion call to all fair minded individuals to fight ignorance, poverty and discrimination.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Like many youngsters, I was assigned To Kill a Mockingbird to read as a 15 year old. Unlike most, however, the assignment was for speed reading class . . . rather than American Literature.
Don't ever read this book for speed reading class.
I always intended to get back to the book for a more leisurely reading that would allow me to take in the obvious brilliance of Harper Lee in more ways. I was pleased to find that my local library offered an unabridged reading by Roses Prichard (an actress with a Ph.D. in Communications from the University of Southern California) for Books on Tape.
In the first 15 seconds, I knew I had made a winning choice. Roses Prichard turns Scout (Jean Louise) Finch into a girl you'll feel like you've known all your life. Take the time to find this wonderful recording: You'll discover more in this book than you've ever thought could be in a book describing the thoughts and experiences of a five- to eight-year-old narrator.
Jem and Scout Finch are the only children of Atticus Finch, a highly principled lawyer in the small Southern town of Macomb, Alabama, whose wife died young of a heart attack. Unlike many novelists who cram their story into a few hours or days, Harper Lee showed the good sense to give us the family history and to let the children grow up over a few years before entering the heart of her tale. It's good story-telling and is great for character development.
Jem is five years older than Scout but tolerates her company as long as she doesn't start acting like a girl. That's fine with Scout who prefers overalls to dresses any day. As Jem grows older, he finds himself taking on the role of protector as well.
The children acquire a summer friend, Dill, and decide they want to meet the reclusive Arthur (Boo) Radley, a neighbor who always stays indoors. They have many adventures that will remind you of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher in Injun Joe's cave.
The book is written in pre-Civil-Rights-era Alabama when consciousness of the bad things done to African Americans wasn't very well developed among those who weren't African Americans. The only people in the story who seemed to appreciate the full horror of discrimination are those who are honestly trying to live the Christian life. But even many practicing Christians proved to be blind to their African American neighbors' needs and concerns.
Harper Lee does a fine job of skewering all of those who are hypocrites on the subject of race. She even takes an appropriate shot at northerners who avoid the company of African Americans.
In a way, this book was The Uncle Tom's Cabin of the Civil Rights Movement, developing the consciousness that helped to change some attitudes towards African Americans.
The story also features lots of insights into Southern "justice" of the day -- inside the court, in the jury box, in jail, and in prison. To bring the evils of the attitudes to bear, Harper Lee tells us that it's wrong to kill a mockingbird . . . they only sing for us to enjoy and don't do any harm. By the end of the book, some of those in Macomb begin to feel that way about harmless human beings who do good, as well.
You can learn more about Southern culture and attitudes in the early 1960s by reading this book than by studying a dozen nonfiction texts. Harper Lee got it right. One of the lightning rods for racial tension in those days was unwarranted sexual fear of African-American males. That theme is fully developed through having an African-American be accused of raping a white woman.
But what I think makes this book timeless is its focus on what it means to be a good person . . . the story of Atticus Finch and his struggles with being both a good man and a good father.
But years from now you won't forget Scout: She's one of the great heroines in American literature and an important prototype of what the next generation should have become in loving other people.
Appreciate the untapped potential all around you!