I like traditions. I like routine. There was a time in my life where I didn’t appreciate routine, but the older I get, the more I have come to enjoy it and need it.
For instance, I was “that guy” in college who would just pick a random seat in class on the first day, and never move again. That is, unless someone came along (my brother-in-law, Josh), who while having this conversation the other day, mentioned that he enjoying sitting in the seats of guys like me. I won’t even get into how disorienting that was when it happened. Talk about end-of-the-world-stuff.
But, I digress.
Back to traditions. Last year, I started a tradition in my life. I wanted to have a book that I would read each year. I wanted to grow up and allow the book to grow and mature with me, like a childhood friend.
Well, I am in my second year of this tradition. I slacked the first year and didn’t write a reflection, so this will have to do for the inaugural post. This year I’ll just write a simple review. I’ll talk about plot and what immediately jumped at me. Each year, though, I’ll dig a bit deeper. I’ll start to discuss the complexities of the characters and relational dynamics, and how they speak to our everyday lives.
Here we go.
For those who have never read Harper Lee’s beautiful book, To Kill A Mockingbird, I command you to stop reading this post, go out to your local book store (which might be Amazon for all you Kindleites out there) and pick up a copy. I’m strongly believe that this is one of the most important pieces of fiction written in the last 100 years.
Set in depression-era Alabama, this story follows the everyday life of young girl- Scout Finch- as she grows up in the small town of Maycomb. With this small town as the backdrop, this story follows Scout as she participates in the simple tasks of her ordinary life. Through the eyes of this little girl, the reader experiences all the seasons of life; the heat of Summer, the first days of school in the Fall, the beauty of a first snow in Winter, and the hope of Summer vacation in the Spring.
The reader witnesses the unique relationship dynamics between Scout and her brother, Jem, and father, Atticus. The reader is along for the ride as this little girl grows up and matures far more quickly than she should have had to.
In this book, Scout is forced to deal with the ugly realities of life. The realities that adults pretend don’t exist. It is a story of the pain that comes from being on the fringes of society. We see through the eyes of a child, first hand, how unfair life can really be to those not privileged enough to be included in the inner circle.
As for how the book plays out, To Kill A Mockingbird has two main plot lines which end up becoming two separate climaxes at the end of the book.
The first is the legal battle that Atticus must fight to protect a man no other man wants to defend. A man assumed guilty of a heinous crime, and who’s case was passed up as a lost cause. It’s a legal case that will cost Atticus everything he has.
The second is the deep and driving fascination the children have with a reclusive neighbor by the name of Boo Radley. Scout must learn about people who are different from her. Through the course of the book, Scout is forced to hear and process the stories whispered by the lips of others, and she must learn to understand how to tell fact from fiction and truth from exaggeration.
Ultimately, this book is about a child growing up and beginning to see that the world around her is much more complicated than originally thought. It’s about a girl who sees injustice, and deep down knows that something is terribly amiss in a world she inhabits. There is a great struggle in this book, and by the end, the reader is left with an understanding about what true dignity and integrity are, as well as what it really means to treat people the way they want to be treated.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a book about decency and about human worth, and as I mentioned earlier, it’s a book I highly recommend for any and everyone. It is a book that I greatly anticipate reading each year, and look forward to how it will It receives a perfect rating of 5/5.