Rummanah Aasi
  I feel like one of the last readers who haven't read Harper Lee's masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird. I was never required to read for school. I had originally planned to read it for last years Banned Books Week but didn't have enough time. After finishing the book, I can see why it has remained so popular and given the marks of a classic novel.

Description: A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a widowed lawyer, defends a black man falsely accused of rape.

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird is a complex novel that seamlessly weaves a coming of age story along with a critical look at the injustice and prejudice of a small southern town. Scout, our main narrator, is an unconventional girl in her society. She is a precocious child who is eager to learn, has plenty of self confidence, well aware of her surroundings, and has a pretty good moral compass thanks to her mild mannered father, Atticus Finch. I loved how Scout isn't forced to live within the confines of her social identity, but continues to act freely by wearing whatever clothes she likes, plays with boys, and openly addresses her father by his first name. She doesn't care of what people think of her nor what other girls her age are doing. She is comfortable in her own skin. It is through Scout's eyes that we slowly see the world we once thought was so simply divided into right and wrong become muddled, unfair, and even evil.
  Like many readers I'm sure, Atticus Finch was my favorite character. He is a role model and the epitome of a hero. He is intelligent, calm, and always well mannered. Atticus is respected by everyone, including the very poor. He functions as the moral backbone of Maycomb, a counselor whom others seek advice from when they are in times of doubt and trouble. It's ironic that his conscience that makes him so admirable ultimately causes him to be a social outcast as he agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white man's daughter. Though Atticus’s action makes him the object of scorn in Maycomb, he also seems to retain his dignity and respect after the trial as before. What I love most about Atticus is that he practices the ethic of sympathy and understanding that he preaches to his children and never holds a grudge against the people of Maycomb. As a reader I had a hard time overlooking their racial intolerance but Atticus sees the goodness of the people. He recognizes that people have both good and bad qualities, and he is determined to admire the good while understanding and forgiving.
  It is obvious why To Kill a Mockingbird is controversial as it brings out the dark side of the American society, however, in less than 300 pages it manages to teach us many important lessons such as to place ourselves in other people's shoes before we make a rash decision, to not take advantage of those who are helpless than us, and that yes, sometimes life is really unfair. I'm amazed that Harper Lee wrote an edgy book 50 years ago and it still remains to challenge us to this day. 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Why it was challenged/banned: To Kill a Mockingbird has been one of the most popular classics that have been challenged/banned. Challenged in Eden Valley, Minn. (1977) and temporarily banned due to words "damn" and "whore lady" used in the novel. Challenged in the Vernon Verona Sherill, N.Y School District (1980) as a "filthy, trashy novel:" Challenged at the Warren, Ind.Township schools (1981) because the book does "psychological damage to the positive integration process " and "represents institutionalized racism under the guise of good literature:" After unsuccessfully banning Lee's novel, three black parents resigned from the township human relations advisory council. Challenged in the Waukegan, III. School District (1984) because the novel uses the n word. Challenged in the Kansas City, Mo. junior high schools (1985). Challenged at the Park Hill, Mo. Junior High School (1985) because the novel "contains profanity and racial slurs:" Retained on a supplemental eighth grade reading list in the Casa Grande, Ariz. Elementary School District (1985), despite the protests by black parents and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People who charged the book was unfit for junior high use. Challenged at the Santa Cruz, Calif. Schools (1995) because of its racial themes. Removed from the Southwood High School Library in Caddo Parish, La. (1995) because the book's language and content were objectionable. Challenged at the Moss Point, Miss. School District (1996) because the novel contains a racial epithet. Banned from the Lindale,Tex. advanced placement English reading list (1996) because the book "conflicted with the values of the community." Challenged by a Glynn County, Ga. (2001) school board member because of profanity. The novel was retained. Returned to the freshman reading list at Muskogee, Okla. High School (2001) despite complaints over the years from black students and parents about racial slurs in the text. Challenged in the Normal, ILL Community High Schools sophomore literature class (2003) as being degrading to African Americans. Challenged at the Stanford Middle School in Durham, N.C. (2004) because the 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel uses the n word. The challenges continue today.  Source: ALA.

Words of Caution: The n word is prominent in the book and it is used by all age levels in the book. The book is a reflection of how people felt and thought during the 1930s which is the time setting of this novel. It further emphasizes the racial prejudices in this town. I'm not sure where how the book promotes prejudice and racism, but rather, advocates people to take a stand and not tolerate these injustices.

If you like this book try: The Family Tree by Barbara Delinsky, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi Durrow, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I am Scout by Charles Shields
10 Responses
  1. I love the book but I have never actually "read" it, I've listened to it on audiobooks several times. The book really comes alive in that format.

  2. I can see why. The dialect is so strong and has a personality all of its own. I now need to see the movie with Gregory Peck!

  3. Jenny Says:

    Wow. This book has been challenged/banned quite a lot hasn't it? It still remains one of my very favorite books and one of the few I actually enjoyed reading in school. Atticus is absolutely my favorite too:)

  4. The first time I was required to read this book in school, I didn't care for it one bit. I revisited it in college and was completely blown away. It seemed like different story.

    Thanks again for sharing the challenged history. Very interesting.

  5. The first time I read this book I was in High School and it was required reading for one of my classes. I loved it, even then. The story is just so real and amazing and if I look back on it as a reviewer, I think it's quite amazing how the author is to develop the characters and the plot so fully while at the same time giving us quality and a story to be appreciated for years to come. Loved your review, Rummanah. It makes me want to go back and reread it.

    I knew it had been banned, but I'm surprised at how many times and all the reasons. It was really interesting to read that section of the review.

  6. I loved this book when I read it in 9th grade. I read it in 6th grade for fun and liked it a lot, but I was definitely too young for it.
    I'm a big Atticus fan. In college, I had a betta named Atticus Fish.

  7. This is one of my all-time favourite books. I read it when I was younger and didn't understand the concept, but reading it later, it was impeccable. Those who challenge it are looking at their own issues, I do believe. So sue me for saying that. Great review :)

  8. Ελλάδα Says:

    This book is terrific. Very descriptive and meaningful. About a black man accused of raping a white girl and a little girl that talks about her childhood. She has a older brother and a dad, her mother died but she has a nanny so to speak that acts as a authority figure. I can say the best part of the book would be how the father (Atticus)gives advice to the children.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    Screw the people who challenged this

  10. This book is so simple,so lucid yet it touches your heart. Harper Lee won a Pulitzer for this one and she deserves it!!
    This book is set in early nineties in a small town in Mississippi. The protagonist is a small girl who leans about life. Scout is a small girl, who along with her brother Jem see the evil of racism. Their father , Atticus is a lawyer who defends an innocent black man. In the end the evil of racism sees the poor man being punished. Yet we see how the incident affects Scout and Jem and how Atticus teaches the entire world a lesson.

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