This is one of those books I’ve always meant to read but never quite got round to it, but with the 50th anniversary coverage recently and its inclusion on the Rory Gilmore Book Challenge, it seemed like now was as good a time as any to give it a go.
I have to admit, I’ve never seen the film in full yet I still somehow had managed to have some preconceived ideas about this book. I’d assumed it was entirely about the trial in which a white lawyer defends a black man accused of attacking a white girl in America’s Deep South of the 1930s. What I actually got was the tale of Scout, the young daughter of widowed attorney Atticus Finch, and her brother Jem growing up in a small town. The friendships they make, the society around them, the forward thinking father and the trial is just a small part of the story, although the build up to it and the consequences of it, have a huge impact on the lives of the Finch family.
There are many themes dealt with throughout the book, including racism, gender roles and class, but all discovered through the eyes of a child, giving an innocence to the style and an unprejudiced honesty to the narrative. Atticus Finch is perhaps the greatest father in literary history, with Scout portraying him as an easy going and almost remote parent, what he actually does is provide the children with the building blocks they need to become independent, just, fair individuals who understand the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
If you haven’t read this book, I would definitely recommend you do. Not because it’s a “classic”, but because it’s a marvellous piece of storytelling, and a wonderful read.