Book review: To Kill a Mockingbird


It’s a good book.
It really is..
Of course, I have to admit that To Kill a Mocking Bird was not an easy read for me, but this has nothing to do with the book itself, but rather with my haphazard reading habits.
I am not a very good reader, actually. And you have to believe me, for this is no attempt at humility or browbeating of myself: it is a fact. You see, at times I just skip parts of a book and then page backwards to read what I must have missed, and then skip forward again to pick where I broke of.
And so it was with To Kill a Mockingbird..
Well…, almost.
At least at the beginning.
But this book is compelling and it somehow commands you to pay attention. It traps you, so you have to follow what is going on. You’ll have to. There is no escape.. beware.
This book reminded me of a book about Coca Cola. It mentioned how, in the thirties, it’s advertising strategy changed dramatically. Coca Cola hired Norman Rockwell as an artist and Rockwell conjured up Huckleberry Finn and similar scenes to chase away the sufferings of extreme poverty. It was after the financial crisis of 1929 and poverty struck, hard. But it was countered by something that was akin to the love and admiration for simple things. It was poverty, but also that feel of pureness. Of simple things appreciated, because they are simple.. and honest and close to the heart.
The book can be divided in two parts. Not as such, but by inference. There is a first part which describes the life of the protagonist(I am deliberately obscure here) It describes the life of a mid western village. The people are poor.. really poor, for they can often only pay in kind. The father of the protagonist is a lawyer. And some of his clientele have no money to spend.. so they give him things. Goods. Eggs, sides of bacon.. you know. Things you can use or eat.
We are flung back towards the middle ages economically.
And we are far far from the Rules of Civility.
Rules of Civility?
Yes.. that is another book that is set in the thirties, but that one does not have poor mid western town as focus, but bon ton New York, the affluent, and certainly that book has no knowledge of racial issues. Indeed, Rules of Civility is basically unaware of the ‘racial’ issues for it only tells us about the whites and the negroes do not surface in that book.
Segregation? What segregation?
But not so in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The first part almost seamlessly merges with the second part. Which has a trial at it’s center. It is the trial of a negro accused of having raped a white girl. It seems to be the pivot of the second part, yet it is not, for what is at the center is not actually the trial itself.. it is humanity. When the father of the protagonist acts as lawyer for the defense, he does so against knowing better and while he does so he makes a difference.
The heart of this book is humanity, whether it is Jean, the main character in the book or her brother or their housemaid Calpurnia or the father Atticus or judge Taylor or the sharp tongued neighbor Miss Maudie or Boo Radley, the recluse who hides from himself in his house, yet issues forth to come to the rescue of Jean and her brother at the end. It is in Heck Tate, the sheriff who stands up to Atticus when he is a bit too certain that justice should be served.
It is humanity that is at the center of this book.
And it is hopeful and positive.
And there is where it fails to get the final fifth star.
It’s just a bit too neat really.
Reality is a bit harsher then this book wants it to be and I do not buy into it.
I love each character in this book.. but down to earth.. it is just too much a fairy story.
A great fairy story, but make-believe in the end.
Despite my cynical view I would recommend to book to anyone.
It is about humanity.. and that is a good thing.

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