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To Kill a Mockingbird Mass Market Paperback – October 11, 1988
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"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
"Remarkable triumph . . . Miss Lee writes with a wry compassion that makes her novel soar."―Life magazine
"Marvelous . . . Miss Lee's original characters are people to cherish in this winning first novel."―The New York Times
"A novel of great sweetness, humor, compassion, and of mystery carefully sustained."―Harper's Magazine
"Skilled, unpretentious and tototally ingenuous . . . tough, melodramatic, acute, funny."―The New Yorker
"Miss Lee wonderfully builds the tranquil atmosphere of her Southern town, and as adroitly causes it to erupt a shocking lava of emotions."―San Francisco Examiner
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So to replace this book as my gift I bought the same novel at Barnes & Noble for just a few dollars more. That book has a beautiful leather cover with engraved artwork and gold leaf pages with a ribbon bookmark. Barnes & Noble sells it as a "library" edition. It is hard to overstate the vast difference in quality between this book and Amazon.com's so-called 50th Anniversary Edition. I don't blame Amazon.com, which just provides the venue for sales, but I hope my review puts everyone on notice that this book is barely better than a paperback.
No disputing the quality of the writing. No comment on formatting yet but I sure noticed the price drop.
Also, the plot is ridiculous because a white woman sexually assaults a black man. This has probably never happened in real life. But if it does and if you're on the jury, you'll be the first one to recognize it after having been sensitized to such occurrences by this book. You may not be sensitized to black men assaulting white women which is a million times more common, but we should only be ready for exceptions to the rule rather than the rule itself. That makes us more enlightened.
This book is partly responsible for reinforcing the anti-white bias that prevails in the media as we are constantly bombarded with stories of black victims and white perpetrators despite the fact that blacks are a 39 times more likely to commit a violent crime against a White than vice versa.
Good blacks shouldn't suffer because of the stereotypes that many of their racial kinsmen reinforce, but whites shouldn't be stigmatized when they coalesce on racial lines either because it's not always for bad reasons as in To Kill A Mockingbird. Because TKaM is never balanced out in school reading lists with books about black on white crime or books favorable to whites organizing along racial lines, the promulgation of TKaM is a half truth that amounts to a deception.
In short it fails as literature and as political commentary.
I'm waiting for the heavily Jewish print media to publish a story with an identical plot to To Kill a Mockingbird but with the archetype of Tom Robinson being a Palestinian man and that of Mayella Ewell a Jewish woman.
The cover is nice. Nothing is wrong with it.
The pages have a deckled (ragged) edge, on the side that is opposite the spine.
The copyright page does not indicate as to whether or not the paper is acid-free. The paper does not seem to be acid-free, but I could be wrong about this.
The print on each page is consistently dark, and this is good. The font size is sufficiently large.
In terms of content besides the novel itself, there is nothing special. It has a one-paragraph foreword that was written by Harper Lee in 1993. In the foreword, she requested that no introduction ever be written for her novel.
In short, I give five stars to Harper Lee for her novel, and three stars for this particular edition (because I suspect that the paper is not acid-free and because I don't particularly like deckled edges), yielding an average of four stars.