My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I somehow managed to get through advanced placement h.s. English classes and an English major in college without reading TKAM. Finally, a book group at work decided on reading it and I got around to it. And kicked myself! How had I not read it sooner?
TKAM is a story about racism and a trial that highlights the unfair treatment of African Americans in the twentieth century in the American Deep South. The protagonist is a girl nicknamed Scout. She is a wonderfully drawn character, spunky and interesting. The author takes on the complex task of writing from the point of view of a child (Scout goes from 6 to 10 years old during the course of the book) without making it sound like it’s a grown-up talking about how a child would feel.
The rest of the characters are well done too and the interactions are authentic and complex. What most caught my eye, however, was the author’s descriptions of the setting. The sleepy town of Maycomb becomes almost another character in the story, genteel on the surface, decaying and festering with prejudice beneath it. Seen through the eyes of a child, the town’s characters and stories take on an almost mythical quality.
A beautiful, poetic and haunting tale that stays with you after you put it down. Its reputation as a classic is well-deserved.