To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: a review

If anyone is looking for a fiction recommendation, “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee is a remarkable book. It’s set in the US south in the 1930s & is about a white lawyer defending a Black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. It isn’t really of the white savior genre, like “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. Outside of a Black maid & caregiver & the courtroom appearance of the accused man, Black characters don’t figure in the story, reflecting the insular nature of segregation–not just then, but now.

Atticus Finch, the lawyer, is a high-principled fellow but not really the central character in the book. The narrator is his small daughter who portrays events from the perspective of a child. In many ways it’s as much a coming of age story as it is about the ugly insularities & criminality of Jim Crow (the US form of apartheid).

It’s filled with rich characters & portrays small town life in a way I think is probably universal & not particular to US or southern culture. I likely wouldn’t have read the book but it was on the agenda in my book club at the library. All of us–& it is a very thoughtful, insightful group of readers–loved the book. So if you’re looking for a quick & what is called “gripping” read, consider “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

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