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249 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scout's story
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...
Published on 17 Mar 2003

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334 of 354 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get another edition
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 -...
Published on 6 Dec 2006 by Tim Riding


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334 of 354 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Get another edition, 6 Dec 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.
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249 of 267 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scout's story, 17 Mar 2003
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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.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GCSE English students be warned..., 19 Mar 2007
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Sheleen Hems "Sheleen" (South Coast UK) - See all my reviews
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There are many great books... and there are some books that, when read, stay with you forever. Harper Lee has written one of those books - To Kill A Mockingbird. Written from the perspective of a child (Scout Finch) it holds within it's pages an innocence that I have rarely found in any other book. This book may change the way you think... it may change your life... it will certainly make you wish for an era long gone - or one that may have never even existed, save for in the brilliant mind of Harper Lee.

But any students studying this book for an exam, be warned! Read the book, and do not try to cheat or take a short cut by watching the film. The book is written entirely from a childs point of veiw - and the film is definitely from the perspective of Scout and Jems father, Atticus Finch.

I've read this book maybe fifty times... and I'd still read it again, and again. Rarely is a book of this calibre written - don't miss out and pass it aside.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SISSY SPACEK.... No one could do it better!!, 22 Sep 2010
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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.
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158 of 174 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, ageless masterpiece, 8 Aug 2007
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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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary Classic, 18 July 2014
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pacem et amorem (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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Harper Lee created an amazing literary classic with To Kill A Mockingbird. To write a book that educates, inspires but is also an enjoyable read is no mean feat and Lee pulls it off with extraordinary aplomb. We see the world through the eyes of a grown up Scout who is relating the events she witnessed during her childhood as a little girl being raised with her brother Jem by her lawyer father Atticus, ably assisted by Calpurnia the family's housekeeper.
The story takes us on a journey through some significant events in the Finch family life and we witness in the small community of Maycomb racial prejudice, injustice, domestic abuse, poverty and violence. This is no sweet tale of childhood friendships and memories of perfect summers. There is a great deal simmering under the surface of Maycomb's serenity and we see many instances of the darker side of human nature. However, through Atticus Finch, Calpurnia and Miss Maudie we see that all is not lost. The children learn great moral lessons from these characters, lessons for the reader as well.
In this novel, we see the ugly side of human nature and the beauty in life that helps us cope with and overcome it. We see the children warmly welcomed into Calpurnia's community, into her church and onto the 'coloured balcony' in the court. They feel at home with people who are shunned and mistreated everyday by the injustice of segregation and they are stung by the prejudice displayed towards people who have been kind to them and who are made to suffer simply because of the colour of their skin. We, like them, feel our faith in justice shaken by Tom Robinson's trial.
Atticus Finch sets a good example for his children. He stands up for Tom Robinson, the black man accused unjustly of sexually assaulting a young white woman even though he had to face down threats from a lynch mob and the possibility that his career and standing in society would suffer from accepting the case. He and the very small band of characters who think like him help provide the moral compass of the novel. However, perhaps the most important character in the book is the one we do not meet until the very end. It is the reclusive and ultimately heroic Boo Radley that brings our three children together (Scout, Jem and their friend Dill) and he is an enigmatic presence throughout the novel until his eventual unveiling at the story's close. If we had to live in Maycomb and had a sensitive personality, would we choose the same life that Boo did?
This is a masterclass in how to create a morality tale that does not preach but educates and inspires in equal measure. Rightly described as a book every adult should read before they die, this is definitely one that should be on your bookshelf or your Kindle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand", 20 Dec 2010
This is one of those books that has been so heavily reviewed and revered over the years that it can be difficult as a reviewer to tackle it with any kind of fresh perspective. However, after finishing the book two days before writing this review and still having it fresh in my mind, I felt that I had to recommend it to other readers.

For me this was one of the many books I'd been meaning to read for a long time, and if a friend of mine hadn't leant it to me after hearing that I hadn't yet read it then I may well have never gotten around to it. (It came up during a conversation about him naming his new cat 'Atticus' - I now understand why the name is so good!)

Put simply, this is one of the most complete books I've ever read in the sense that the sheer amount of characters, human emotions and themes that it juggles at any one time is so impressive. The fact that the whole story is told from the perspective of an 8 year old girl, Scout, gives an interesting angle to the proceedings, as the central themes (the most obvious being the issues of race and prejudice, and the concept of innocence) are examined through the eyes of Scout, who experiences many of the (often harsh) realities of the world for the first time, and so hasn't yet succombed to the same attitudes and preconceptions held by many of the other characters that surround her. This really helps the reader to form their own moral judgements based on the events that take place in the novel.

For me personally however, the real hero of the novel is Scout's father, Atticus Finch. He is probably one of the most morally incorruptable literary characters of all time, and almost every line he utters has some kind of mystic wisdom to it. To be perfectly honest, if the rest of this novel wasn't so well written then Harper Lee could probably have won her Purlitzer Prize solely on the basis of creating him.

I will say no more about the content as it's really one you need to discover for yourself, but if you were considering reading this book, then in my opinion there are many worse ways of spending your spare time. Harper Lee (with the help of Scout's charming and often humorous narration) manages to tell a rich and densely-layered tale in an accessible way, and for that reason it drew me in from start to finish. A classic for good reason.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Moving Reading of a Wonderful Book by Roses Prichard, 18 Dec 2007
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll Remember it Forever!, 28 Aug 2004
This is quite simply one of the greatest novels in the English language. It's theme is racism and the impact it has on a small town in Alabama, seen through the eyes of the young daughter of a lawyer who defends a young black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. The actual trial does not take up all that much of the book - a larger part is related to a reclusive neighbour - Boo Radley - who has not been seen outside in a decade, and the children's attempts to draw him out, and to the towns attitude to Atticus, the children's father, who is reviled for making a genuine attempt to defend the accused. If there is any flaw, it is that the book is set in the late 1930s, and represents a world that has physically disappeared, of separate racial townships, civil war survivors and the first generation descendants of freed slaves. This could make some dismiss the message of the book as one that is no longer relevant, but that is simply not true - the world of segregated churchs, shown here, is still sadly going strong, while the ghettos may not be physically separate, and quite so obvious, but are still there. The same is true of the death penalty, still far more likely to be carried out on black rather than white criminals. This book still carries a punch. Also recommended: The Lovely Bones by Sebold, The Losers Club by Richard Perez
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic, 26 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This book will stay with you for the rest of your life. The story of a child's lost innocence so brilliantly intertwined with the mundane aspects and frustrations of growing up. The fears and prejudices of the era as outlined through the eyes of Scout are exposed as ridiculous but dangerous. Her father, Atticus, a lawyer defends a negro falsly accused of rape. The trial exposes all the bigotry present. Harper Lee uses the technique of applying a childs logic to illuminate all the problems endemic at the time. The book will make you laugh and cry.
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