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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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To Kill a Mockingbird (original 1960; edition 1988)

by Harper Lee

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
50,431101410 (4.4)2 / 1904
Member:romanadvoratrelundar
Title:To Kill a Mockingbird
Authors:Harper Lee
Info:Grand Central Publishing (1988), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:20th century, american literature, alabama, american south, racism, novel

Work details

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

  1. 292
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (loriephillips)
  2. 3014
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Caramellunacy, rosylibrarian)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories are about a young girl in the South coming to terms with racism. Secret Life of Bees features an teenaged protagonist whereas To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout is quite a bit younger, but I thought there were themes that resonated between the two.… (more)
  3. 248
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (paulkid)
    paulkid: There are many similarities between these books. For example, a strong father-daughter relationship, where the father teaches by example by taking the moral high ground in protecting a persecuted minority - also kids that break down the barriers between secluded and socially awkward neighbors through books and sundry shenanigans.… (more)
  4. 227
    The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (dele2451, rosylibrarian, chrisharpe)
  5. 184
    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Caramellunacy, Anonymous user, Anonymous user)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories about a young girl coming of age in the South and racial intolerance. Also both beautiful reads! To Kill a Mockingbird is told by Scout Finch - the daughter of the town lawyer called upon to defend an African-American man accused of rape. Roll of Thunder is told from the point of view of the daughter of a cotton-picking family who only slowly grows to realize the extent of prejudice her family faces.… (more)
  6. 153
    Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David Guterson (EerierIdyllMeme)
    EerierIdyllMeme: Very different novels exploring similar themes
  7. 110
    Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: These books share a precocious narrator, vital family relationships, and themes that are funny and sad and thought provoking all at the same time. Extremely well written and engaging.
  8. 100
    Native Son by Richard Wright (DanLovesAlice)
    DanLovesAlice: An African-American facing an uphill battle against a highly prejudiced jury and public. Wright, like Lee, explores the dangers of the stereotypes created by insular and ignorant societies.
  9. 80
    Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (Othemts)
    Othemts: These books are two sides of the same coin of life in a small Alabama town. Where there's dignity and hope in Mockingbird, Other Voices is decadence and demoralization
  10. 103
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (bnbookgirl)
  11. 51
    Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian (eclt83)
    eclt83: Goodnight, Mr Tom is as touching as To kill a mockingbird. Problems in society causes pain for the weaker.
  12. 51
    Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence (kxlly)
  13. 40
    The Stones Of Mourning Creek by Diane Les Becquets (Sadie-rae_Kieran)
    Sadie-rae_Kieran: Similar setting, 1960's in the south. Deals with some similar issues as well,including racism/discrimination. Though sad at times, a beautiful and touching story.
  14. 52
    The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner (LKAYC)
  15. 41
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (chrisharpe)
  16. 41
    Home by Toni Morrison (Louve_de_mer)
    Louve_de_mer: Pour les problèmes de ségrégation raciale aux États-Unis.
  17. 41
    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (rarm)
  18. 74
    A Painted House by John Grisham (infiniteletters)
  19. 64
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (aamirq)
  20. 31
    Dovey Coe by Frances O'Roark Dowell (meggyweg)

(see all 41 recommendations)

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Showing 1-5 of 966 (next | show all)
Audio book narrated by Sissy Spacek
5***** and a ❤

Is this the quintessential American Novel? Will it stand the test of time as Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has done? Time will tell.

I do know this, however. This is a singularly powerful novel that had a great impact on me when I first read it at age 13 (shortly after it was first published), and has never failed to move and inspire me as I’ve re-read it over the years (at least 20 times by now). It has touched generations of readers in the 50-something years since it was first released, and remains high on many “must be read” lists.

There are many reasons for this. It’s a well-paced novel, a fast read with elements of suspense, family drama, humor and moral lessons. Scout is a wonderful narrator, both as a child and as an adult looking back on her childhood; and the fact that Lee was able to seamlessly move between these two viewpoints is a testament to her skill as a writer.

Many people feel this is a book about racism. I don’t think that is the core theme of the book, though it is the central plot device Lee uses. I think the major theme of the novel is personal integrity and courage – doing what you know is right when all about you seemingly disagree and even when it may be dangerous to do so, being true to your own moral compass, and instilling those values in your children by example not just words.

In this respect Atticus Finch shines as the protagonist of this work. He is a man of strong moral fiber, a man who is “the same in his house as he is on the public street,” a man “who was born to do our unpleasant jobs for us.” He embodies the lessons he tries to impart to his children: that courage is not a man with a gun in his hands but rather, “It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

The novel aims a spotlight on a particular time and place in America’s history. Lee writes with clarity and colors this world for the reader with descriptions that put us squarely in Maycomb, Alabama circa 1935: Somehow it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.

The minor characters, especially the women, are as richly drawn as the major players. I was struck by what a wide range of personalities, strengths, weaknesses and ethics Lee was able to express using characters such as Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Helen Robinson, Mrs Merriweather, Lula, Miss Maudie, Mrs Dubose, Miss Caroline and Mayella Ewell. Some of them appear for only a page or two, but they come alive on the page and remain in the reader’s memories.

The audio book is performed by Academy-Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek. She does an admirable job, though her accent is wrong. She is a Texan, and the Southern Alabama accent is softer then her twang. Still, by the second disc I had stopped noticing this, and allowed myself to be carried into the story by her expert reading.

*******
NOTE: The above is a fresh re-write in July 2015; compiled from notes I’ve taken over several re-reads: May 1998, July 2004, 14Aug2010, 22Oct2011, 07July 2013, 13July 2015 ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 8, 2016 |
Not enough superlatives in the English language for this book and Sissy Spacek's audible narration. ( )
  nospi | Feb 7, 2016 |
it was a very interesting and remarkble book. ( )
  Shazarah | Feb 6, 2016 |

Originally posted here

This timeless classic never entered my radar until adult life, and I think it would have resonated with me more if I had read it as a teenager.

The story needs no introduction as it is so well known, and is very hard to review. I feel like I should award it more stars then I did because it is so well beloved and has a powerful message about prejudice and injustice that is just as relevant to the contemporary reader as it ever was. I just didn't enjoy reading it all that much. The story is gothic, depressing and gritty but I found it to be far too slow moving and quite preachy in places.

The characters I found most interesting was Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell and Calpurnia. The tiny snapshots of their lives that are described in this book was infinitely more interesting then pages of description about Scout, Jem and Dill's childhood. Mayella Ewell was so pitiable. In some ways I feel like Mayella was painted as so stereotypically villainous it did not feel real. There is a half sentence that hints at her father molesting her, but then no more is said about it.

There are many 'mockingbirds' in this story, so many victims of circumstance - the messages underpinning this classic are so powerful. Personally, the writing style and the way it was structured was not enjoyable for me and it felt very forced to keep picking it up just so I could finish it. ( )
  4everfanatical | Feb 5, 2016 |
I first read this book when I was 14 and had very fond memories of it. I decided it was time for a re-read and discovered that I remembered only a fraction of it. So it felt like I was reading it for the first time. I loved it all over again. Thank you Harper Lee for a true timeless classic. ( )
  tashlyn88 | Feb 5, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 966 (next | show all)
Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; Novelist Lee's prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life.
added by LT_Ammar | editTime
 
The dialogue of Miss Lee's refreshingly varied characters is a constant delight in its authenticity and swift revelation of personality. The events connecting the Finches with the Ewell-Robinson lawsuit develop quietly and logically, unifying the plot and dramatizing the author's level-headed plea for interracial understanding... Moviegoing readers will be able to cast most of the roles very quickly, but it is no disparagement of Miss Lee's winning book to say that it could be the basis of an excellent film.
added by LT_Ammar | editThe New York Times Book Review, Frank H. Lyell
 
Its sentiments and moral grandeur are as unimpeachable as the character of its hero, Atticus. ... It's time to stop pretending that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature. Its bloodless liberal humanism is sadly dated, as pristinely preserved in its pages as the dinosaur DNA in "Jurassic Park."
added by LT_Ammar | editThe Wall Street Journal, Allen Barra
 
A book that we thought instructed us about the world tells us, instead, about the limitations of Jim Crow liberalism in Maycomb, Alabama.
added by LT_Ammar | editThe New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell
 
There are some improbable and sentimental moments in the story, but there are also great moments of laughter that belong to memory and a novelist's hand... Miss Lee's original characters are people to cherish in this winning first novel by a fresh writer with something significant to say, South and North.
added by LT_Ammar | editThe New York Times, Herbert Mitgang
 

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, Harperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brouwer, AafkeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino Schanzer, AmaliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edinga, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elster, MagliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
French, AlbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaskin, NinaDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hausser, IsabellePostfacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malignon, ClaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noli, SuzanneCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porta, BaldomeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, RosesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sønsteng, GryTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spacek, SissyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoïanov, IsabelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerlund, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westrup, Jadwiga P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.
~ Charles Lamb
Dedication
For Mr. Lee and Alice
in consideration of Love & Affection
First words
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
Please spare Mockingbird an Introduction. (From the Foreword by Harper Lee)
Quotations
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.
They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.
Not from, but about To Kill a Mockingbird, with apologies:

Monroeville, Alabama
January, 1966

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Harper Lee
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' To Kill A Mockingbird is a coming of age story set in the deep south during the time of the Great Depression. Atticus Finch, father of Scout and Jem decides to represent a black man, accused of raping a white woman, in court. Although this stirs up the town during a much heated and racist time during America's history, it sheds a light on the hostility of the south during the 1930's. Filled with insight and suspense, To Kill A Mockingbird is a timeless story that any one can learn something from.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446310786, Mass Market Paperback)

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout's first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children's consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well--in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout's hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind "when you really see them." By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:38 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

The explosion of racial hate in an Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.

(summary from another edition)

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