Book Review

To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) Review


What can I, or anyone else, write about this novel that isn’t already written? The novels champions and critics alike have voiced their opinions on the various “themes” presented within the pages. Life in the South. Race relations. Social classes. Courage. Compassion for others. Gender roles. The law. The ever popular loss of innocence. All the things that academics discuss and bicker about to show they are true intellectuals. Then there’s Atticus Finch and his character’s impact on the legal profession. I could drone on about one or all these subjects, but I won’t. All the things I listed are lost, forgotten, and not given the slightest glance if not for the story told. I’ve said it, written it, and thought it with each reading, viewing, or hearing. The meaningless academic intellectual scrutiny is all secondary. The main component, the most important aspect is the story at hand. Without it everything else is meaningless and often is anyway. Let’s leave the pretentious line of thinking at the door shall we? I’m not an English professor, sociologist, or lawyer. I’m a writer. My main interest, only interest, is the story.

I had to read To Kill a Mockingbird as a high school freshman. Our teacher never allowed us to watch the film version of anything we read. I didn’t care for anything that went on because of that, and various other reasons due to her style and personality. I didn’t want to read it then, but I wanted to read it now and watch the film version. The only thing I remembered was a single character named Boo Radley, but more on him later.

This is one of those “classics of American literature.” I don’t know about that. The term “classic” is so overused and so subjective it means less when applied to the few things that actually are. To me, this isn’t a classic. I didn’t love it, not buying it, and chances are I won’t read it again. That said, I didn’t hate it either. This is one of those novels that goes into my third group. Its ok, and on the like side of ok. This novel wasn’t a page turner, but it read well. The story was good, and easy to follow.

Now, I had two issues with this novel. Both are small, and I might be the only one who finds fault. I think. The two children, Scout and Jem, call their father Atticus Finch by his first name. They even do so in front of other adults, and no one cares. I find this odd, and would have liked a brief explanation. Perhaps this is normal for the time and place and I don’t understand. Even a single sentence early on would have sufficed. It’s such an oddity.

The second issue involves my favorite character in the novel, Arthur “Boo” Radley. As I said, it could be me because he’s my favorite character. He’s a key element to the story, but he’s written as he lived. Off in the shadows. I would have rather heard more about his backstory, though we have snippets of neighborhood gossip mixed with children’s fantasy. I view Boo Radley the same as I view Kurt Barlow in ‘Salem’s Lot. That dear readers, is a piece for another day.

Copyright © Drew Martin 2016


9 thoughts on “To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) Review”

  1. I like that you critique the story without all the usual academia. No doubt this book is important in a way, and even if the story lacks, I agree with nearly every school system in the country that young people really should read this book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There certainly are a lot of different angles of study. I remembered nothing except Boo Radley. I thought it would be like Lord of Flies where once I got in a little bit the story would start coming back and I’d remember. Not true here. Nothing came back. It was like reading it for the first time. I’ll be reviewing the film next week.


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