First published back in July of 1960, US author Harper Lee’s one and only novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ became an immediate bestseller and has since remained on the list of modern-day literary classics.  Following the novel’s instant success, a film adaptation was released in 1962 which received further praise and awards alike.

DLS Synopsis:
Maycomb in Alabama, like everywhere else, was suffering from the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  For six-year-old Jean Louise Finch (better known as ‘Scout’), life is simply more of the same.  Living with her father, the local lawyer Atticus Finch, along with her older brother Jem, young Scott’s summers are filled with the usual antics of young children merely exploring life with mischief and naïve games.  And what with their friend Chet Baker Harris (aka Dill) from Mississippi coming to Maycomb each summer to stay with his aunt, the long summer months prove to be packed with these light-hearted adventures.  None of which are more exciting than surrounding Scout’s mysterious neighbour ‘Boo’ Radley and his supposedly haunted house.  Living in his rundown home with his brother Nathan Radley, the reclusive hasn’t been seen in flesh by any of the youngsters.  However, directly outside of the property, the three youngsters start to notice small gifts left for them after their numerous pranks and mischief alerts the Radley household to their presence.  And this only goes to spark further interest and mysterious puzzlement for the three young children.

Meanwhile, Scout’s father Atticus has been appointed to defend a local black man named Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping a local white woman named Mayella Ewell.  Against the town’s general approval, Atticus accepts the appointment, facing down a vast wall of racial bigotry.  Although Mayella and her family are (somewhat notoriously) regarded as utterly ‘white trash’, the town nevertheless burst into absolute uproar surrounding the supposed rape.   But Atticus knows different.  He’s convinced that Tom Robinson has been incorrectly accused of the crime.  But racial inequality and prejudice runs deep in Maycomb.  And as such, the innocent black man’s chances of a fair trial and an outcome of true justice are bleak.

Atticus Finch is about to come up against a legal battle that will bring the whole of Maycomb up against him and the family he holds dear to him.  A trial that will rip apart the community and impact heavily upon his own personal life.  And amongst the unrest and the despicably unjust racism, a quiet man hiding away in his house offers a glimpse of true compassion.  Young Scout Finch is about to learn some life changing and truly moral defining lessons.  However it’s not going to be easy for anyone involved...

DLS Review:
So, first question that’s undoubtedly on everyone’s minds when seeing this review included on the website is ‘why on earth is it here?’.  And yes, that’s a fair enough point.  It’s certainly not horror, pulp fiction or in any way dark, twisted or a selective division of science fiction.  But what it, is hugely influential, impactful and a novel that really should be read by everyone.  For its influence and importance alone, I saw a place for its inclusion on the website.  And I still stand by that.

Harper Lee’s tale is not exactly a slow starter, but sets off more with a prolonged scene-setting which occupies a good majority of the first third of the tale.  However, during this initial introductory section, Lee establishes some of the most touching and emotive characterisation on paper.  And it’s from this sturdy backbone that the novel flourishes into the powerful Southern Gothic masterpiece that it has become almost unanimously dubbed.

In an absolute nutshell the tale is one of racial prejudice and the associated search and battle for true justice.  It exposes messages and attitudes that are still relevant and prevalent to this day.  Okay, so the novel was written back in 1960 and furthermore set in the 1930’s, but nevertheless such narrow-minded racism and prejudice are still rife even to this day.  Lessons need to be learned.  Eyes need to be opened.  And people need to stand up against such attitudes and continue to do so.

Quintessentially this is a coming-of-age story that plays on the readers heartstrings from the outset.  Written from the first-person-perspective of young Scout Finch, the childlike point-of-view that the story is told from makes the subject matter much more easy digested; tackled as it is from a more amusing and delightfully naïve perspective.

And it’s this utterly intoxicating storytelling that really allows the messages behind the novel to hit home so successfully the world over.  ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is a very easy to read novel.  It’s engaging and compelling, with a lasting light air that just keeps the reader gripped almost effortlessly.

Yes there is plenty of wit in there.  A casual almost joyful lightness to Scout’s ever-curious personality that brings so much of the story to life.  And it’s this narrative that is the first thing to really draw the reader in and remains the constant anchor of engagement for the reader until the touching conclusion.

To say that the novel is an important piece of fiction is one hell of an understatement.  Its messages alone make the novel a shining beacon of morality and strong-willed defiance in the face of injustice and narrow-minded racism.  But more than that, in one instantly engaging (and let’s not forget thoroughly enjoyable) read, Lee has created a story that sets alight the emotions, somehow becoming so much more than the sum of its parts.

This is a tale that no one should allow to miss them by.

The novel runs for a total of 296 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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