I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbirdtakes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. (source)
I truly believe that this is one of the best books in American literary history. When I first read it in seventh grade, I don't think that I was able to fully comprehend just how good it is. Too much of the content went over my head and I was simply too close in age to Scout to grasp how precocious she really is. But now, reading the book as an adult, I believe that I'm able to better appreciate every aspect of the book. And, oh my goodness, it is really fantastic.
This is one of those books that is just so good that I have trouble deciding where to start. There's not really anything for me to critique; I love everything about it! So I guess I'll begin with the characters... Scout is the perfect narrator. It's clear that Scout the narrator is an adult who's reminiscing on events in her childhood that she views as a turning point, but even so, in Scout, Harper Lee manages to perfectly capture the voice of a young tomboy in the Depression-era South, who sees that something's not quite right in society even if the rest of her hometown doesn't really notice that anything's wrong. I loved reading about Scout's predicaments and mix-ups, which I often didn't pick up on when I first read this book. Jem is probably the very best older brother who I've ever encountered in literature. He picks on Scout, he bosses her around, and he's only slightly less clueless than she is, but in the end, he always has her back. And their father, Atticus, is just wonderful. I wish every lawyer and politician were as guided by his morals as Atticus is. He's a wonderful father and a great person in general - definitely one of the best characters I've ever read about. All of the rest of the characters are just as well-developed and loveable (or love-to-hate-able) as these, from Miss Maudie and Boo to the despicable Bob Ewell. The characters are what make this book great.
However, the book itself is nothing to scoff at, either. It has a great message and I think it was so brave of Harper Lee to publish it in such a politically-charged environment. The book was published in 1960, during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, and Ms. Lee is from Alabama herself, so, without having done any research on the topic, I'm sure that she encountered a great deal of criticism for publishing a book that's so vehemently anti-racism. The story deals with extremely heavy subjects, but it also incorporates plenty of humor to help lighten things.
I greatly enjoyed re-reading this wonderful novel. I do think that 12 was too young for me to have read it the first time around - while I still liked the book then, I didn't understand all of it and I think this read of it was much more successful. I highly recommend reading this to anyone who has not yet read it - this one is a must-read, in my opinion.