Industrial Deals Beauty Best Books of the Month STEM nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc All-New Fire 7, starting at $49.99 Starting at $39.99 Wickedly Prime Handmade Wedding Rustic Decor Shop Popular Services  Introducing Echo Show All-New Fire 7 Kids Edition, starting at $99.99 Kindle Oasis Nintendo Switch Water Sports STEMClubToys17_gno



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Showing 1-10 of 6,899 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 10,008 reviews
on May 10, 2017
‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’

Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is an undisputed classic that few will avoid having read in their lifetime, and those few are to be pitied. As I habe presentation of the novel coming up this weekend, a discussion group that I am lucky enough to be allowed to lead as part of the The Big Read here in Holland, Michigan, I felt it necessary to revisit this timeless classic (and I figured I’d review it to help collect my thoughts on the subject). The experience was like returning to a childhood home and finding it warm and welcoming and undisturbed from the passage of time, like walking the streets of my old neighborhood and hearing the calls of friends as they rode out with their bikes to greet me, of knowing the mailman by name and knowing where all the best places for hide-and-seek were, the best trees to climb, and feeling safe and secure in a place that is forever a part of yourself. Though some of the mechanics of the novel seemed less astonishing than my first visit more than a decade ago, the power and glory was still there, and I found a renewed love and respect for characters like Atticus, whom I’ve always kept close to heart when wrestling with my own position as a father. Harper Lee created a wonderful work that incorporated a wide range of potent themes, wrapping class systems, gender roles, Southern manners and taboos, and an important moral message of kindness, love and conviction all within a whimsical bildungsroman that no reader who has been graced by its pages will ever forget.

‘The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.’

Before dipping into the novel itself, I’d like to take a moment to speak about Atticus Finch, one of my favorite characters in all of Literature. Atticus is a pillar of morality, a man of honor, integrity, and most importantly, conviction. He is humble and honest, even admitting to his children that yes, indeed they are poor. In a novel about society, with its tumultuous mess of morals and class, Atticus is like an authorial deus ex machina, being Lee’s method of inserting moralizing and an example of what constitutes a ‘good man’ into the book through character and not authorial asides. I’ve always idolized Atticus and tried to think ‘what would Atticus do?’ when it come to being a father and undertaking difficult moral conundrums (I even named my second cat Catticus Finch). Atticus takes the unpopular position of defending a black man in a rape case when assigned to him despite the town nearly ostracizing him. Atticus does his duty, and does it well, as a man of conviction that believes in doing what is right and honorable regardless of the consequences, living up to his statement that ‘Real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what’. In fact, Lee originally intended to name the novel Atticus before deciding it would stifle the broad perspective of Macomb by drawing too much attention to one character. Atticus remains steadfast throughout the novel, sure of himself and fully developed, whereas those around him undergo more a sense of change and development. This is a novel about personal growth and a broader understanding of those around you, and Atticus is the anchor to integrity and morality keeping his children centered in the violent storm of emotions and violence that befalls Macomb.

‘When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em.’

There is a childlike innocence spun through a novel of such weight and seriousness, executed brilliantly by Lee’s choice of Scout as the narrator. We are forever seeing a larger world through the eyes of a young girl still trying to find her place in it while making sense of all the hustle and bustle around her, and this creates an incredible ironic effect where there are large events going on that the reader understands but are delivered nearly through defamiliarization because the narrator cannot fully grasp them¹. The narration allows Lee to balance the coming-of-age hallmarks with the weightier themes, allowing the reader to maintain an innocence from the rape and racism while still able to make sense of the society functioning at large, and retreating from the darker themes into the fun of the children’s comings and goings. What is most impressive is how everything blends together, and the lessons learned in each aspect of their life are applied to all the other elements they come in contact with. The fates of Tom and Boo Radley are emotionally and morally linked in the readers mind, heart and soul.

All the standard bildungsroman motifs that make people love the genre are present in To Kill a Mockingbird, from schoolyard quarrels, to learning your place in society. We see Scout, Jem, and even Dill, gain a greater understanding of the world and their place in it, watch the children come to respect their father for more than just being a good father, see them make dares, terrorize the neighbors in good fun, and even stop a mob before it turns violent. With Scout, particularly, there is an element of gender identity at play that leads into a larger discussion about class and society. Children learn from those around them, and Scout spends much of the novel assessing those around her, perhaps subconsciously looking for a role model for herself. The ideas of what a good southern woman is and should be are imposed upon her throughout the town, such as Ms Dubose who criticizes her manner of dress, or Aunt Alexandra and her attempts to eradicate Scout’s tomboyish behavior, and she learns to dislike Miss Stephanie and her gossipy behavior. Miss Maudie, however, curbs gossip and insults, and puts on the face of a southern lady, but still gets down into the dirt in the garden and behaves in other, more boyish, ways that Scout identifies with. The gender identification becomes a cog in the gear of Southern tradition in manners and class. While the court case is unquestionably controversial due to the racial implications, it is also because it forces people to discuss rape and involves questioning the Word of a woman. It forces up a lot of taboo that the community is uncomfortable in being forced to deal with it, and many inevitably turn a squeamish blind eye when forced to confront the ugly truths at hand. Macomb is a society where everything and everyone has their place, a set identification, and they do not like it being disturbed. Most important to note is the correlation that the characters who are most inclined to uphold societal traditions through self-righteous brow-beatings often exhibit the most rampant racism throughout the novel.

‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’

There are many ‘mockingbird’ characters in this novel, such as Tom and Boo, but the real mockingbird is, to me at least, the innocence that is lost. The town is forced to see each other for who they really are, to question their beliefs, to grow up with all the racism and bigotry going on around them. Atticus teaches Scout that we cannot know someone until ‘you consider things from his point of view’, and through the novel we see many misjudgements of character based on misunderstanding or characters refusing to see beyond their closed opinions, or even something as simple as Scout and Jem believing the rumors of Boo Radley as a bloodthirsty maniac. ‘People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.’ This applies to many obdurate aspects of society, such as Miss Maudie stating ‘sometimes the Bible in hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of-oh, your father,’ emphasizing the ways that a closed mind is just as dangerous as a violent hand and that even religion can be misused. There is a message of love, of looking into the hearts of others and not just judging them, a message of compassion and open-mindedness working through To Kill a Mockingbird, and it is a message that we all must be reminded of from time to time.

There are a few issues that arose on a re-reading of the novel, having grown myself as a reader since I first encountered this lovely book. While the moral lessons are important and timeless, there is a sense of heavy-handedness to their delivery. Particularly at the end when Sheriff Tate points out the dangers of making a hero of Boo Radley.
taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head.
This statement is quickly followed by Scout mentioning to Atticus that ‘Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?’. It seems a bit unnecessary to reiterate the point, especially when Tate’s double use of sin was enough to draw a parallel to the message earlier in the novel that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. This, I admit, is overly nitpicky but brings up a conversation about teaching this novel in schools. This book is, ideally, read at a time of the readers own coming-of-age and the connections they are sure to draw with the characters reinforce the love for the novel. It is also a time in life when you are just beginning to understand the greater worlds of literature, and overtly pointing out themes is more necessary for readers when they haven’t yet learned how to look for them properly. It is books such as this that teach us about books, and usher us into a world of reading between the lines that we hadn’t known was there before. Another quiet complaint I have with the novel that, despite the themes of racism, Calpurnia seems to be a bit of an Uncle Tom character. However, who wouldn’t want to be in service for as great of a man as Atticus, so this too can be overlooked.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel surely deserving of it’s classic status. Though it is not without its flaws, there is a timeless message of love that permeates through the novel. It is also of great importance as a book that young readers can use as a ladder towards higher literature than they had been previously exposed to. Lee has such a fluid prose that makes for excellent storytelling, especially through the coming-of-age narrative of Scout, and has a knack for creating exquisite characters that have left their immortal mark in the halls of Literature as well as the hearts of her readers.
4.5/5

‘...when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things...Atticus, he was real nice.

Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.’

¹This style is reminiscent of William Faulkner, such as the court scene in Barn Burning from the detached perspective of a child. In fact, much of this novel feels indebted to Faulkner and the works of Southern Gothic authors before her, and the Tom incident and case feels familiar to those familiar with Faulkner’s Dry September or Intruder in the Dust. The way the most self-righteous and self-professed 'holy' also tend to be the basest of character morals is reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor as well. Lee’s story is fully her own, but it is always interesting to see the travels and growth of literary tradition.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 12, 2017
I read it in high school as an assignment and missed the voice while struggling with the plot. I wanted it plain back then. What I got the second time, fifty years later, was a voice of innocence and wonder and wisdom in a story that was far more than plot. I missed Scout and Jem the first time because I was so worried about Boo and Tom. I missed the birthing of civil rights because all I could see was a trial. Harper Lee may have had only one good story in her, but I'm grateful she told it perfectly.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 8, 2017
The setting for this book is the fictional town of Macomb, Alabama in the mid 1930s. The narrator of the story is Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, a 10 year old tomboy. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer who is defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. The likelihood of a black man getting a fair trial in the south in the 1930s is about 1 in a million...optimistically speaking.

Scout gets some valuable life lessons from her father. She sees that doing the moral thing, is not always an easy, or popular, or safe thing to do. But it's the <i>right</i> thing to do. She also learns that everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and to receive justice, no matter what their skin color.

I first read TKAM in high school 50 years ago. I re-read it, as I'm sure many others have, in preparation for reading the recently published "To Set a Watchman". I was touched deeply by this story in 1967. And I'm touched just as deeply in 2017. Harper Lee made us stare prejudice and injustice in the face, and made us want to aspire to be an Atticus Finch. A flag-waving 5 stars!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 11, 2017
Clearly, Scout Finch is no ordinary five-year-old girl—and not only because she amuses herself by reading the financial columns of the Mobile Register, but because her nine-year-old brother Jem allows her to tag along when he and Dill Harris try to make Boo Radley come out.
Boo is the Radley son who has not shown his face outside the creaky old family house for 30 years and more, probably because he has "shy ways," but possibly —an explanation the children much prefer—because his relatives have chained him to his bed. Dill has the notion that Boo might be lured out if a trail of lemon drops were made to lead away from his doorstep. Scout and Jem try a midnight invasion instead, and this stirs up so much commotion that Jem loses his pants skittering back under the fence.
Scout and her brother live in Maycomb, Alabama, where every family that amounts to anything has a streak—a peculiar streak, or a morbid streak, or one involving a little ladylike tippling at Lydia Pinkham bottles filled with gin. The Finch family streak is a good deal more serious —it is an overpowering disposition toward sanity. This is the flaw that makes Jem interrupt the boasting of a lineage-proud dowager to ask "Is this the Cousin Joshua who was locked up for so long?" And it is what compels Lawyer Atticus Finch, the children's father, to defend a Negro who is charged with raping a white woman. The rape trial, Jem's helling, and even Boo Radley are deeply involved in the irregular and very effective education of Scout Finch. By the time she ends her first-person account at the age of nine, she has learned that people must be judged, but only slowly and thoughtfully.
Author Lee , 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; 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. (A notable one: "Naming people after Confederate generals makes slow steady drinkers.") All in all, Scout Finch is fiction's most appealing child since Carson McCullers' Frankie got left behind at the wedding.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 19, 2017
I have somehow managed to avoid reading To Kill a Mockingbird my entire life. Whenever the old movie was on tv, I'd flip by it, dismissing it as 'courtroom drama'. I knew from being alive in the modern era that it was somehow about racism. Finding myself out of work with nothing better to do I decided to read books from one of those '100 Books Everyone Should Read' lists, starting with this one. I thought I'd be stuck in some period drama written in stilting, formal tones and bored to tears within the first chapter.

I was so wrong. Harper Lee is an amazing writer. Her tale of kids and their summer adventures really would have been enough. I stood in my hallway after the book downloaded & completely forgot that I was going to another room. I was completely sucked in by Scout, Jem & Dill's antics in trying to lure the elusive Boo Radley from his house. And because I fell in love with fierce little Scout I was ready to fight the townfolk myself when the controversy over her father's defense of Tom Robinson came to call on the Finch family.

Yes, it is still relevant today - town rumors and conjecture take the stage much like hysterical media does today, and injustice is served. But it's also a beautiful little vignette of summertime in a small town, a place where adventures are always there for the bold and imaginative.
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 10, 2017
Why did I wait so long to read this one? When I was in school and started on the list of books everyone should read, I was so horrified with Lord of the Files (the second one on the list) that I vowed never again to read something because I should.

Of course the writing is wonderful, it did win a Pulitzer prize. Harper Lee does a fantastic job writing in a child’s voice without sounding childish. It’s a rare gift to write a series of everyday moments without once sounding tedious or boring.

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 26, 2015
Before reading "Go Set a Watchman", I wanted to reread Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird". It had been 32 years since I read one of the defining books of American and 20th Century literature. While one certainly can appreciate this book as a 13 year old, I can appreciate the brilliance of this novel so much more as a 45 year old. While much has changed in America since this book was published in 1960, current events remind us how topical and important the themes Lee writes about are today. The overt racism of the 1930's when the book takes place and even of the 60's when it was published has given way to the insidiousness of a much more covert and insidious form of racism found today.

Soon I'll open the pages to "Go Set a Watchman" and decide for myself whether it was just an early draft that morphed into "To Kill a Mockingbird" or was a separate manuscript and complement. I've read many op-eds, articles and reviews and am anxious to decide for myself. Regardless of where I land, it will not alter the beauty of the message and characters Harper Lee gave us in her masterpiece about one of the defining elements of American history.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 16, 2013
This review is specific to the Kindle edition of the book.

It is suprisingly difficult to find critical essays on To Kill a Mockingbird. This book is a gold mine of multiple critical views, each exploring some aspect of the book. As so many of the people that scored this product with only one or two stars have stated, it is NOT the actual novel. The title should make that plain. If not, the product discription states that "Michael J. Meyer has assembled a collection of new essays that celebrate this enduring work of American literature. These essays approach the novel from educational, legal, social, and thematic perspectives." A hasty purchase without reading either the product title or the description should not translate into a low score for the product.

That said, I will be using this book for research as an M.A. Literature student and am thrilled to find such a wide variety of critical approaches in a single volume. The book is relatively current (2010) and contains fifteen critical essays grouped into four broad areas of approach.

I've just started sampling the contents, but can already say that the navigation appears to be friendly if not fantastic. The table of contents allows the various essays to be accessed directly. One excellent perk of the Kindle edition (used with the free laptop Kindle reader) is the inclusion of the specific Kindle reference information pasted directly into a Word document immediately below any cut/pasted text.

This book is primarily intended as either a research resource for college level students or by advanced readers familiar with literary criticism who wish to gain a deeper appreciation for Harper Lee's master work. In case you missed it, this is NOT the novel.
0Comment| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 25, 2016
This may be one of the most influential novels ever written. The number of people who decided to study law because they had been inspired by Atticus Finch is legion. They were inspired by the story of a highly respected attorney who takes on an unpopular cause and goes against the prevailing ethos in the process. Atticus alone is not enough to have caught the attention of the legion of people who love this novel. All of the characters in it are well fleshed out and interesting -- from Scout and her beloved brother, their housekeeper, various and assorted towns women and men are much more than part of the machinery. In this novel the author creates a warm and breathing evocation of a small Southern town at the turn of the century, with all the conflicts inherent in that environment.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on June 30, 2017
Got this for school. Was supposed to read it in 9th grade, but the Alabama State Board of Education is stupid (Imagine that... not even going to go into every stupid thing they do. The list is as endless as our state's admendments), so my class (C of 2018) read it in 11th grade. I enjoyed the book as I knew I would. It is a very integral part into understanding my state's history because, sadly, Bama still has racial issues. And just like Lee shows in her novel, racism is a problem for both whites and blacks against each other. I became emotionally attached to it and, like Jem, I wished that I could stop the persecution of that innocent black man.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse