There are some books that everyone – every single person – simply MUST read. And yes, we made the capitals deliberate. Some books are just so well written and touch you so deeply, without being difficult or complicated. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is one such title.
The story is around the family of the narrator, six-year old Jean Louise Finch, called “Scout” throughout the book. Her family – her slightly elder brother and her father (her mother has passed away) – lives in a small town in Depression-hit America in the thirties. It is a small community with its own set of problems and interesting people. And then one day the town is rocked by allegations that a black man raped a white girl. The incident increases tensions in the racially divided town where the coloured folk are not allowed to intermingle with their white counterparts (hey, this is the US in the thirties). And even as things get tense, one man rises to the defence of the black accused. Scout’s father, Atticus Finch.
The entire story is built around this incident, but truth be told, what makes it special is the warmth and humour with which the whole story is narrated. From Scout’s arguments with her father, her brother and people around her to the talk in corners in the town to the incident itself and how people react to it, Lee tells the tale in a manner that is very reminiscent of that great American storyteller, Mark Twain. This is not a grim tale, although it has its moments of deep seriousness. You will find yourself smiling at Scout’s antics, enraged at the mindsets of some of the townspeople, and most of all, being inspired by the quiet courage and dedication of Atticus.
He is not always in the spotlight – Scout is – but there is no doubting that To Kill a Mockingbird is really the story of Atticus Finch. Of a single brave man standing up for what he believes is right. Many call him foolish and disloyal but he does not budge. Even when he fails. All of which makes this a memorable book. A sort of Tom Sawyer but with a very strong adult character. It is not a long book and at less than three hundred pages, and thanks to Lee’s brilliant narration, you will find yourself through it before you know it. And wanting to be like Atticus Finch.
A book that moves you, makes you laugh, makes you think and wants you to be a hero. You still want to know why we want you to read To Kill a Mockingbird?