This week’s book recommendation is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This book was on the list of required reading when I was in high school. It was one of the few required reads in school that I really enjoyed at the time. Others I didn’t enjoy until I reread them when I was older. It’s been about ten years since I’ve read it, but I just picked up Go Set a Watchman, which is the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird and only other book written by Harper Lee.
To Kill a Mockingbird is not an instruction manual on how to kill a mockingbird (a common, and comical, misunderstanding that disappoints many teenage boys). It instead follows a young tomboy named Scout Finch. We see through her eyes the events that shake up the town of Maycomb, Alabama in 1936, when her father is appointed as the defending lawyer for a black man who is accused of raping a young white woman. Through Scout, we see the prejudices of the town manifest in actions toward Scout’s family because of her father’s role in the case.
This book was published 1960, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and was made into a film released in 1962 staring Gregory Peck that won him an Academy Award. I think what interests and surprises readers is the look behind the curtain of a certain type of human psyche. Specifically one that used to be common in the history of this country and unfortunately is showing its persistence in the current political climate. It also delves into the reflection of society when faced with a scenario that grinds against the expectations of the masses. Mob mentality is a dangerous thing.
In a way, this book shows how society can corrupt justice, making it bend to meet a level of satisfaction for the greater amount of people. As sad as that is, I think we have all seen instances in our lives where this has happened. Humans aren’t wholly good creatures. Being the optimist that I am, I like to believe our human decency is above average when lumped together.
Another aspect of the book is how the events affect Scout. Children are malleable but also resilient. We see this in Scout as she faces direct and indirect obstacles caused by forces outside of her control.
There are a lot of good things about this book. Many human things as well, which is why I think it became such a huge influence in the world. If you have not read it, I hope you do one day. This is a book recommendation after all.