Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a classic of American literature, dealing with the silent and prevalent plague of racism in the Great-Depression-era Deep South. Told through the eyes of young Scout and Jem, the novel created one of America’s most respectable fictional heroes- Atticus Finch, the upstanding, intelligent, and determined lawyer, dedicated to righting the wrongs of the South.

This novel deals with many complex themes- especially the theme of morality. Atticus Finch, the single father of Scout and Jem, is an upstanding, respectable, and almost irritatingly moral figure in his community. He is seen as a lone beacon of justice and light in his community because of his values. Another theme in the novel is that of humanity’s base instinct of right and wrong- beyond what is outlined in the law. This is clearly shown when Atticus chooses to defend Tom, the black man accused of raping a white woman.

Even though this book is highly lauded on many different platforms, I would not give it an incredible rating. First of all, I was not a big fan of Atticus- even though every single townsperson in the novel gushed about how Scout and Jem were so incredibly lucky to have such a moral, upstanding, and intelligent father, I did not concur. Sure, Atticus was most definitely all of those things- but he seemed more like the idea of a father rather than a real father: he was a personality before he was a person, so to speak. He was cold and aloof towards his children- he did not seem to provide Scout or Jem any real love or guidance through the novel outside of faux-profound moral platitudes. In addition, the book overall had an undertone of condescension and white saviorism that I really did not appreciate. However, this book was written in the 1960s- so it is understandably less progressive than what we would expect today. Even though I didn’t much enjoy this book, I would definitely recommend that you read it- it is still a window to not-so-past times, and can help us better understand what we need to do to confront racism in our world today.

-Vaidehi B.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout at Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free on Overdrive.

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