What is it about?
Growing up in 1930s Alabama, Scout has only one key concern; getting local recluse Boo Radley to leave his house, with the help of her older brother Jem and their summertime friend Dill. But then school starts, and Scout starts to notice things that she hasn’t noticed before, especially when her father is assigned defence in a case against a black man accused of rape. Told through the eyes of a child, we watch as Scout figures out that the people she’d always assumed were good by virtue of the fact that they lived near her, aren’t all that they seem. To Kill a Mockingbird contains several story arcs, dealing artfully and frankly with issues such as racism, rape, class, morality, religion, and growing up.
Is it any good?
I honestly believe that this is a book that everyone should read – it’s still as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Scout is brilliantly utilised as narrator, telling the story with the innocence of a child and then softly maturing as she learns what the world is really like, understanding things that the adults around her can’t because they aren’t children anymore. Lee’s writing is totally consuming, building firm pictures in the reader’s head; this is a cinematic book. Whilst the cast of characters sometimes seems too huge, each character plays his or her role perfectly, to the point that you find yourself forgetting that these are not or never were real people. A highlight of the novel for me is the absolutely electrifying court scenes, which (to use a cliche) really had me on the edge of my chair, desperate but also at the same time scared to turn the next page. This is the great American novel.
How long did it take to read: seven days
For fans of: Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck, long walks, the narrative style of Stephen King
This book tastes like: warm jam doughnuts