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To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee
This is a book that still resonates more than 45 years after being published. After reading it again and again, I am still moved by the power and humanity of the story. Atticus Finch, a small-town lawyer, is one of those quiet heroes who fights for the underdog. Scout, his daughter (and the narrator), unveils her neighbors' hypocrisy in their attitudes toward people of a different color, different economic status, different religion, and those who are disabled. When someone tells me they haven't read this book, I am always surprised, and I encourage them to read it SOON! Our world has changed immensely since 1935, when this story takes place, but there is still injustice and rampant hatred. Reading or rereading To Kill a Mockingbird reminds us that all people need to be treated with respect.
While To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite book of pretty much everyone who has read it, it's important to remember that it continues to be subversive and challenging to the status quo. The protagonist is a young girl named Scout and except for her father, all the main characters in the book are marginalized by the power structure of their town — a structure that still exists nearly everywhere — where wealthy white men control the lives of everyone else, and even the members of that group who want to use their status for something honorable, like Scout's father Atticus, cannot win against the flattening wave of that power. Until something about that structure really changes, this book will remain required reading for every person in America.
Synopses & Reviews
Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South — and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred.
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, served as the basis of an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father — a crusading local lawyer — risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
From Our Staff:
If you're going to write only one novel, this is the novel to write! To say that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the great American novels doesn't do it justice. If you've never read it, read it. If you read it in high school, read it again! I guarantee that what you take from it as an adult will be even better and more meaningful than what you took from it the first time around. Brilliant!
"It's one of the finest books ever written. The quiet heroism of Atticus Finch and the honesty of his children Jem and Scout as they face prejudice in the American South of the 1930s still ring true. If it's been a while since you read it, read it again." Sessalee Hensley
"That rare literary phenomenon, a Southern novel with no mildew on its magnolia leaves. Funny, happy and written with unspectacular precision, To Kill a Mockingbird is about conscience — how it is instilled in two children, Scout and Jem Finch; how it operates in their father, Atticus a lawyer appointed to defend a Negro on a rape charge, and how conscience crows in their small Alabama town." Vogue
"A first novel of such rare excellence that it will no doubt make a great many readers slow down to relish more fully its simple distinction...A novel of strong contemporary national significance." Chicago Tribune
"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." Time
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville Alabama, which produced two world-renowned authors in the same generation. Harper Lee was the grade school classmate of the young Truman Capote, with whom she maintained a friendship well into adulthood. (In 1966 Capote dedicated In Cold Blood to her). The youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Finch Lee, Harper attended Huntingdon College 1944-45, studied law at University of Alabama 1945-49, and spent a year at Oxford University. In the 1950s she moved to New York City where, after working briefly as an airline reservation clerk, she decided to focus exclusively on her writing. She moved into a cold-water flat and began writing To Kill a Mockingbird. In 1957 she submitted the manuscript to the J. B. Lippincott Company and was told that her novel read too much like a series of loosely connected short stories. She spent the next two and a half years revising the book and in 1960 it was published to widespread acclaim, winning the Pulitzer Prize and thousands of devoted readers.
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