Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Reviewed by Simone Rogers, age 17
To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel set during the Great
Depression, touches on love, humor, cruelty and kindness. The
mockingbird is an important symbol in the book. It represents innocence
accused of wrong doing.
Atticus, a single father, and his two
kids, Jem, and Scout live in the small town Maycomb, Alabama. Jem is
Scout’s older brother by four years, and Scout is the narrator of the
story. The family has a housekeeper, Calpurnia, who fills in the
maternal role after the children’s mom passed away.
Atticus is a
lawyer who defends a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of sexually
assaulting and beating a white woman. Atticus wants to teach his kids to
see everyone as an equal despite living in a racist white community.
Jem and Scout experience tormenting racial comments at school because
most of the people in the town assume Tom Robinson guilty of the crime.
author does not try to limit the narrator’s voice with her vocabulary
and power of expression by using dialect of that era. During this time
African Americans were referred to as Negroes and were often called the
“N” word by whites.
The lessons taught in the book are about
being open-minded, protecting the innocent, taking the moral high road,
equality and respecting others. Being open-minded, Atticus prevents his
kids from thinking of the point of view of well-off white children of
good connections. Protecting the innocent means being true to what you
feel is right, and helping those who are discriminated against.
Sometimes you have to take the moral high ground accepting that you may
be discriminated against for doing so. Equality is treating everyone as a
human being. Despite personal disagreements Atticus treats all people
with courtesy and acting on a basic human rights.
I think this
book is best suited for high school students because of the way it is
written and the author’s use of historically correct language.