When (unnecessarily) reviewing a book as widely read as To Kill a Mockingbird
it is interesting to consider why it is generally considered one of the all-time greats. The prose style is pleasant enough but not extraordinary, the story is fairly simple and straightforward, the characters are quite lively and believable but some lesser-known novels also have those. What this book has in spades that all too few works of fiction is heart
. At the risk of sounding “totally gay” I find this book wonderfully charming, heartwarming and compassionate.
The book is a mixture of the "Southern Gothic", and a coming of age "Bildungsroman" story of two kids Scout and Jem. The gothic part features a creepy neighbor who is possibly some kind of flesh eating mutant. This aspect of the story is intermingled with a charming story of day to day childhood in Maycomb, Alabama, then the story takes a dark turn as they gradually become aware of man's inhumanity to man. The weirdo next door become much less interesting under the circumstances.
We often talk about world building in genre books on Goodreads, escapism into alien worlds, fantasy lands and such, what Harper Lee has done here with the setting of Maycomb Alabama is even more remarkable. There is a vividness, a sense of place in this book, that immerses the reader into the story. The narrative is full of warmth, wit and wisdom, the book is brimming with wisdom and quotable lines like:“There are just some kind of men who—who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.”
I love books that touches the emotional core, that make me feel something. Most novels I read are just for entertainment and if I get that I am a happy customer. However, this book puts me into a state of reverie after finishing it, by so doing it has transcended from being just another novel to read until the next one to something to cherished. It is a mystery and a shame that Harper Lee never wrote another novel, but the single book she has written is worth more than most authors’ entire bibliography.