This year we read To Kill a Mockingbird for our Language Arts class. Now the teacher is having us write a review about it. I think she had us read this book because we are in eighth grade now and it discusses important topics such as racism and prejudice.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a story about a 1930’s Alabama town called Maycomb. It explores society at the time and all the issues to go along with it. It is narrated by Scout, a young girl who is the main character. At the beginning, she talks about how her brother broke his arm just before he turned thirteen, then tells the entire story, starting when he was ten. It begins with how their father, Atticus, is trying to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who was accused of rape. She goes on to describe how hard it was, being teased by the kids at their school and talked about behind their backs by the community. The townspeople do this because they are racist and appalled that a respectable white public defender would actually try to defend a black man.
The tension in the town builds to the point where Atticus has to stand outside the jail where Tom Robinson is being held to keep people from lynching him. While Atticus is facing down the mob, Scout runs up to him and saves him from getting beat up. She does this by talking to a man she recognized and reminding him that he was better than this and that she and his son were friends. The tension keeps building until one night, just before Jem’s thirteenth birthday, on the night of Halloween, the actions of a townsperson puts Jem and Scout’s lives at risk.
One of the characters is Arthur “Boo” Radley, thought of by the kids as a six and a half foot tall monster, with bloodstained hands and yellow teeth, eating cats and sneaking around at midnight. In reality, all he ever did was be stupid when he was a teenager (we all have), and stab his father in the leg with scissors while he was scrapbooking. He is sort of a kind phantom, leaving gifts for Scout and Jem, but never being seen. And, at the end of the book, he ends up helping Jem back to the house after breaking his arm, so despite what the kids originally thought of him, he is a very nice person. I wouldn’t want to meet him because he is a super ultra introvert and really hates any sort of attention. I wouldn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable by having to talk to some random person.
This book is similar to The Book Thief because, in both books, a group of people is persecuted. In The Book Thief, it is the Jews being slaughtered, enslaved, and tortured. In To Kill a Mockingbird, it is the African-American community who are treated horribly.
I think the author is trying to say that listening to your conscience and doing the right thing is more important than doing something wrong just because many others think you should do it.
This is a really great book and I would give it five out of five stars, but it is a bit of an advanced read, so I would really only recommend it to people who are 12+. It also has some language that is considered extremely racist and provocative in our world today, so it isn’t really appropriate for younger children.