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A Truly Pleasurable Read

September 16, 2008

Last month my mother-in-law, Katie, read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. She so enjoyed it (finishing it in less than two days) that I was inspired to borrow it and read it myself. I knew that I’d read this book at some point in my public school education, but only the names of the characters were still familiar to me… Atticus, Scout, Jem, Boo…

Now I’ve finished the book (it took me a little longer, but hey, I’m a new mom, right!?) and I wanted to write a post about the experience because I can’t remember the last time I was so taken with a book; I’m considering reading it again, right away, I was so tremendously pleased with it!

On the one hand it is the lovingly-told account of an adventuresome girl growing up during the Great Depression. On the other hand it is the complex story of a black man on trial in the deep South and a nuanced telling of its repercussions on a small town. Harper Lee’s narration from the perspective of a six-year-old is captivating and the convention of placing multiple stories within a story is executed so cogently [thank you to Drew for the word-choice there].

Kerri Miller’s Midmorning Book Club read To Kill A Mockingbird back in March of this year. (To listen to that program click here.) Some listeners said this was the most influential book they’d ever read, after the Bible. At the time the show’s promos aired I thought that sounded completely over-the-top, but the craft and beauty of this book is, in my opinion, quite inspired indeed. Some may lament the fact that Lee never wrote another novel, but reading it I had the sense that this book was as much a gift to Lee as it was her gift to us…there is nothing else she needed to give us, Scout’s story is enough.

I hope to watch the fim version of To Kill A Mockingbird soon, and I’d like to invite each of you to pick up the book, or the movie, or both. If you do, as always, I’d love to hear what you think.

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