Saturday, August 13, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird

If you want a study in good voice, take a peek at Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird.  It was our book club's most recent selection.  I didn't get to finish it this go around though I enjoyed it in high school.  Selecting Scout to be the viewpoint character allowed for an exaggerated view of the world that felt genuine and legitimate if not completely accurate.  The way she described her first grade teacher's red and white clothes and then stating "she looked and smelled like a peppermint" made me laugh and showed how to make clothing descriptions actually help support characterization  and not merely fill the page with description you'll forget the moment you finish reading it.

Harper Lee created back stories and folklore for everybody, making the world feel rich with history.  Different characters had clearly differing motivations and beliefs.  Maudie Atkinson contrasted sharply with Stephanie Crawford.  Close friend of the children versus neighborhood gossip.  Lee's world just came alive.

Normally I can find positives and negatives about the books I read for our book club.  My list only had positives for this one.  Either I didn't read far enough into the book to reach the bad writing this time or the book really was this well written.  I don't generally believe in Literature with a capital 'L' but this book truly belongs as a shining example of good literature.  Ranging from its lovable characters and spinning a good yarn to the layers of symbolism and probing questions about race, gender, social class, good, and evil.

I find it absolutely amazing that people still request that this book get banned from schools and public libraries.  It may be one of the true great american novels.  A must read.

1 comment:

The Taylors said...

I finished reading it for the second time this summer (I'm pretty sure the first time was during high school). Definitely a good book!