To Kill a Mockingbird

January 16, 2009
By Mary Swanson, Coon Rapids, MN

In the world of classic literature, there are all kinds of great stories. However, only a few stand out in the minds of so many as To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I have experienced that firsthand. When I picked up this book, I had no idea what it was about, aside from the fact that it is a masterpiece of American literature, and it definitely is.

The author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, was born in a small Southern town in 1926. In a way, this story is similar to a personal story of her own early childhood. This book is a mixture of adventure and mystery with a hint of romance that takes place in the 1960's and is told through the eyes of a humorous little girl, Scout Finch. In her small town of Maycomb County, where racism is still strong and intense, a black man is accused of beating a young white woman, so a trial is to be held and the town goes haywire. There are no lawyers willing to represent the black man aside from Scout's father, Atticus Finch, who takes the case. At that point, the book takes off into its powerful story. When Harper Lee was a mere five years old, just slightly younger that her c haracter Scout, a situation very similar to this happened in her town. This is where the idea for the book came from, and what an idea is was! I thoroughly enjoyed the plot of the book because it was very easy to follow and relate to, even through some of the slower parts.

I found To Kill a Mockingbird very engaging as to how easily I was transported from my living room chair to the midst of a chaotic small Southern town in the 1960's. It seems as though the setting can often make or break a book, and for me, it definitely ‘made' it. I felt like I really was in Maycomb County. The main characters were , obviously, also a huge part of this book. Three of the m are Scout, the little girl who tells the story, Jem, her older brother, and Atticus Finch, the father and a lawyer. I enjoyed all of them because they seemed so real, and you really felt like you could be their best friend. Scout and Jem are typical young kids, always getting into trouble. My favorite example of this was when they hid their friend Dill under their beds for a whole day, without getting caught! They are the kind of crazy kids who are always up to something. Their dad, Atticus, is the one through whom the messages in the story are revealed. He does what he believes in and does not let anyone stop him. My favorite quote from the book was when he said, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” He is an inspiring character who is very admirable. The characters enhance this story to make it the amazing one that it is.

In my opinion, To Kill a Mockingbird definitely lives up to its reputation as a masterpiece of American literature. With Harper Lee's unique writing style and brilliant flow of words, this novel is a great book for anyone. I highly recommend it.

The author's comments:
I'm a woman.

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