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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