Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird is up there with some of the all-time classic books recommended to anybody who wants to consider themself “well-read”. It’s a book that takes you through all the range of emotions, teaching you morality and pure kindness along the way.

To Kill A Mockingbird book review
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Originally published in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird was Harper Lee’s first of two books she ever wrote. It is set in Southern America, in Alabama and follows the lives of Jean Louise, the daughter of Atticus Finch and her family and friends. It discusses and covers prejudice in a very gritty and down-to-earth manner and takes you through a story that will see you experience all the emotions.

Plot – 5/5

To Kill A Mockingbird follows the story of Jean Louise, a young girl who lives in sleepy Maycomb, Alabama from 1933-1935 during The Great Depression. We follow Jean Louise’s experiences as she learns about the world. She learns what’s expected of women, how certain families come from “good blood” and “bad blood”, how poverty or wealth can affect a family’s standing. She learns most importantly about morality, mostly via guidance from her father Atticus Finch, the town’s lawyer. Most of the story is set around Atticus Finch’s defence of a black man within the town who has been accused of raping one of the young women. From this one trial, Jean Louise learns so much about people’s beliefs at the time – a time when black people were wrongly seen as far inferior to white people and were supposed to work for white people.

I’ll be honest, I absolutely loved every single word written in this book. Harper Lee writes from the point of a child in such a pure and believable way. Jean Louise questions everything – she hasn’t been brought up to hate black people – their housemaid is black and she is one of the family, she’s loved equally to everyone as that’s how she’s been brought up. So when people show displeasure and prejudice, Jean Louise asks her father, she asks her older brother Jim and she questions everyone as she’s not sure why they do. With these questions, Atticus consistently gives her a balanced and morally right view of the situation. He tells her why, he tells her his views and he explains that she should develop her own views based on how people treat her, not the colour of their skin, their gender or anything otherwise.

It’s a story that will leave your heart feeling whole and pure. Atticus Finch is the perfect father figure and Jean Louise is the perfect blank canvas with Harper Lee uses to ask the real questions that would have been asked by so many young in the 1930s and prior. I could go on for many more paragraphs about how this book can teach children and those with prejudice views a smarter, more simple way to view everyone but I’ll stop here before this begins to become an ethics essay.

Characters – 5/5 

Jean Louise is brilliant – she’s a young feisty girl who defies everything that society expects her to be. During the period, women were expected to behave like “women”. This meant wearing dresses, understanding your role as a man’s aid, speaking properly, curtsying to everybody etc. However, as I mentioned above, Jean Louise has been brought up by a man that’s never taught her what she should or shouldn’t be and so having an older brother has left her as a bit of a tom-boy. She loves to get muddy, she gets into fist-fights at school and she’s not afraid to answer back if she genuinely doesn’t believe what’s being asked of her is what she should do. She’s strong, incredibly intelligent and utterly lovable throughout – despite her quite obvious flaws as a child growing up in a fairly backwards society.

Atticus Finch is written as a true hero. He’s a well-educated, well-read white man who always says and does the right thing. He always knows the best way to phrase tricky topics and he never fights or argues, even in situations where he has every right to do so. There’s an element to Atticus of wanting so hard for his children to be genuinely good people that the choices he makes and things he says are possibly not what he’d always say or do out of the earshot of the children.

The supporting characters throughout the novel are all fantastic too. You have those who are racist, those who are sexist, those who come from more affluent backgrounds and those who come from poorer backgrounds. These all meld into creating such a broad stroke of different characters.

To Kill A Mockingbird summary – 5/5

I listened to To Kill a Mockingbird via audiobook and I read the kindle version too and whichever I was choosing to do, I found myself absolutely obsessed and invested by the story and the characters. When I pick up a classic, I always go into it with hesitancy as I worry I won’t grasp why it’s received the acclaim it has and to have endured for such a long time. But I can 100% see why To Kill A Mockingbird is considered one of the greatest novels ever written. It gives you an utterly pure look into prejudice and the beginnings of the questions of whether it’s right the way people of colour were treated back then and whilst doing so writes in some utterly loveable characters, a gripping story and the feeling of completion when finished.

If you’ve not read To Kill A Mockingbird, I would highly recommend it to absolutely everyone. Usually, I pick a genre so I can link it to those genre reviews on my blog but I have to recommend this book to everybody. It’s fantastic and possibly up there with one of my favourite novels I’ve ever read.