After a frantic realization that I have never actually written a review for Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most important and iconic books in literary history, I decided that I needed to sit down and write a nicely thought out review.
But I had to do it right. I had to plan this out perfectly, just as I did with my Princess Bride read. (Side note: Don't forget to write about that as well.)
In the wake of the newly released Go Set a Watchman, I set up my reading plan and To Be Read list without hesitation. Step One: Reread To Kill a Mockingbird. Step Two: Read Go Set a Watchman, and form your own, unbiased opinion about the book. Step Three: Review both, separately, and express your opinion to the world (no matter what fallout you may receive).
So, here I am. This is my completion of Step One, and part of Step Three.
To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a young girl, Scout, as she grows up in the 1930s south with her brother, Jem, her father, Atticus, and their reclusive and mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley. But any Harper Lee fan will tell you that that summary is nothing. It's not even a chip off the tip of the iceberg. It's merely a glance into Scout's world, and it covers positively nothing about the story. If you haven't already, you're just going to have to pick up the book to fully appreciate what it entails.
When I first read To Kill a Mockingbird, I was in my mid (to late) teens. Some parts of the book were dry to me, but overall a powerful and important read.
Fast-forward to now, about five (or so) years later.
Rereading a book is like returning to your old hometown and revisiting long-lost friends. You've kept contact over the years, but there's something undeniable about actually returning home to a familiar place. You're aware of how things run, you know what's going to happen while you're "in town," and just being there comes as second nature, like breathing.
But there's a certain newly found appreciation that comes with revisiting a story like this. You begin to finally get things you missed the first time around. You understand more, especially since you've aged a good few years, and have grown more experienced since the last time you read it. The more time you spend with Scout, the more the aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird, such as innocence, bravery, family, and truth, become bold in the eyes of the reader.
Please excuse me if the following sentence oversteps the fine line between "book reviewer" and "hipster blogger."
Anyone who has read and appreciated To Kill a Mockingbird must know that Harper Lee was a woman ahead of her time. I've heard that the book is many years ahead of its time, and while that is true, I believe that the focus should mainly be on the author herself. I believe that, if possible, she, as a person, would be even more appreciated if this book had come out in this day and age. (Of course To Kill a Mockingbird wouldn't nearly be as popular as it is if it hadn't come out when it did, but imagine the possibility of this book being released in the 2010s.)
I think what I'm trying to say is, that since this book was written and released so long ago, it's become overshadowed by the "classic" label, therefore rendering it boring and dry in the eyes of readers. (And only talked about recently because of the whole Go Set a Watchman debacle.) But again, any reader and lover of this story would know that this book is anything but.
To Kill a Mockingbird is an absolute masterpiece. Argue all you want, and I will respectfully disagree, but this book is popular for a reason. If extraterrestrials were to fly down to Earth and request a book that humans consider a guide to mankind, To Kill a Mockingbird is it. Why? Because not only does it prove that there are kind people in the world, it shows how awful and unfair we can be as well. This book is real. It's sweet, heartwarming, and it can make you all warm and fuzzy inside, but it doesn't sugar-coat life. To Kill a Mockingbird is well-loved, award-winning, and required reading for a reason.
It would be an understatement to say that this reread of mine only solidified that fact. I would say (more likely) that it brought it to life.
Another understatement would be to say that To Kill a Mockingbird is just a favorite book of mine. I love and care about many books. I love series I read when I was little, I love young adult books packed solid with romance and violence, and I love independently published books and classics alike. So, I don't think it would be fair to classify this exceptional story as "just a favorite of mine."
To Kill a Mockingbird is not just a paper and glue-bound book, it's a guide to life.