To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Most of the books I’m required to read in school seem forced and I usually don’t end up enjoying them. However, I relished almost every word in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I realize that it may be one of the most widely-read classics of American —literature, but wanted others my age to learn that they can, in fact, enjoy something if they take it to heart.

The plot revolves around a fictional, Southern town called Maycomb in the 1930s. One reason this book is special is not only that it’s written in the perspective of a white person, it’s also written in the perspective of a child. Scout, a white girl living with her father, Atticus, and her brother, Jem, tells the story of her childhood.

One of the main themes that resonated with me was the innocence and compassion of children growing up. Scout is headstrong and seems to be more boy than girl. As a young girl, she spends most of her days playing with Jem and her neighbor, Dill around their town, and especially around the mysterious Radley house. However, Scout’s father, a lawyer is assigned a new case, and most of the book focuses on how it affects the prejudiced town. Scout learns not everything is black and white, even though most of the citizens of Maycomb think so.

Many may argue that the book is about racism and some argue that racism is only a theme present in the book. I think it was mostly about childhood innocence and the beautiful, innocent perspective of ethics through a child. I saw the book as cleverly written with humorous parts in addition to some beautiful, thought-provoking quotes that I have totally taken to heart.

The one thing in the book that totally changed my life was actually a character: Atticus. Atticus was consistent, compassionate, and extremely wise. More often than not, his expansive vocabulary confused Jem and Scout, but the lessons he verbalizes throughout the book are priceless, usually getting them to come up with opinions of their own. According to the rest of the town, Atticus isn’t raising his children right. But I couldn’t disagree more.

Atticus said, “‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

– Megan A.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available at the Mission Viejo Library.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The novel Things Fall Apart was written by Chinua Achebe in 1958, and follows the story of Okonkwo. Set in Umuofia, a fictional village in Nigeria, it details life in Africa before European colonialism and after. The first part of Things Fall Apart introduces the reader to life in a typical African village, with Okonkwo as the main protagonist. A hard-working man looking to escape the shame brought by his father, Okonkwo rises to a high position in his village, becoming one of the leaders.

In the second and third sections of the novel, Achebe begins to write about the settlement of Europeans from the point of view of the African people. He details the effects colonialism has on Africans, and the complete disruption and, eventually, destruction of traditional tribal life. Though the main character Okonkwo does try to fight this, his attempts are futile in the end.

This novel has great literary significance as up until the publishing of this novel, most books about African life were written by the point of view of Europeans, who would often portray Africans as inferior and primitive in their novels. However, Chinua Achebe would be one of the first of a new wave of African writers. He would show the world a new perspective on colonialism and how it was not always a good thing. This amazing novel brought about great change in the literary world and is one that should be read by all.

-Kobe L.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

ings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a fictional story, but has great significance in the literary world. Published in 1958, the novel follows the Okonkwo, who is one of the leaders of his tribe in the village of Umuofia.  In order to obtain such a prestigious position, he had to work twice as hard as the other men because he came from nothing. Okonkwo’s father was lazy and effeminate, according to Okonkwo, and only cared about playing his music. His music did not earn him any money, so Okonkwo resolved to be a better man than his father. His resolve did help him be successful, but it also hurt him because he would not accept any behaviors he considered “weak” and he was quick to anger. This tragic flaw led to horrific events in the novel and an inevitable ending.

Even though, this was a novel I read for school, I enjoyed it because it had a easy-to-follow plot line and an interesting story. Okonkwo was what made the novel interesting because his flaws made the novel intriguing. Despite his negative traits of abuse, quickness to anger, and his lack of empathy, the novel flows and the reader wants to continue reading in order to see where the story goes. Also, the reader starts to pity him because they see the struggles he is facing. The importance of the novel was to depict the exploitation of the Africans by Europeans, but this is revealed through Okonkwo’s actions and feelings. Even though some may be hesitant to read this, I would encourage people of all ages to read it because it has something for everyone.

-Anmol K.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library