Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*****To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Reviewed March 21, 2004.
Warner Books, New York, 1982.  First published in 1960.  284 pages. 
Available at Sembach Library (F LEE).
Winner of the 1961 Pulitzer Prize.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #1, Classic Fiction

I first read To Kill a Mockingbird as a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book when I was only about the age of Scout Finch, the eight-year-old narrator.  At the time, I didn’t know that I didn’t like condensed books, since they all have the same flavor, and there were some holes in the story, but I did figure out that To Kill a Mockingbird was a wonderful and gripping story.

Part of the genius of the book is the fact that the story is told by an eight-year-old.  The details of what a rape is go right over her head (as they did mine), but the underlying principles that justice should be the same whether a person is black or white shine out crystal clear.

Many call To Kill a Mockingbird the greatest American novel of the twentieth century.  I’ve noticed that not only do high school students check it out as required reading, but adults also check it out as a wonderful book they want to enjoy all over again.

To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a man compelled to do the right thing in spite of opposition, but it’s so much more.  It’s also the story of Scout Finch, a motherless tomboy, growing up in a warm, sleepy and prejudiced town in 1930s Alabama.  In what seems like harmless fun, she and her brother and their friend speculate about their reclusive neighbor and try to get him to come out. 

Scout’s eight-year-old perspective gives the story its punch.  She watches her father defending a black man accused of raping a white woman.  Scout doesn’t figure out why so many people of the county despise her father for taking the case, but she does figure out, along with us, that her father is a truly great man. 

Spending time in the company of the people of this book is a rare pleasure.  Here is a book that every American should read.

Reader comment:  Jane Clifford gives this book four stars, with the comment: "What a great reread this was in the quiet after Christmas and how wonderful to visit the respect of family relationships whether of blood or simply of the heart.  Perhaps the greatest message of the book is that by doing what you believe in by both action and words you have both self respect and that of others."

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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