#1 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee No other book has had such a powerful effect on me. Each time I’ve read it, I am right there, right in that place. The book has so many aspects to it, so many layers, so many truths contained within. I have decided not to do a scholarly essay (I probably couldn’t!), but rather tell you from my heart how the story connected with me. Some of it might sound trite, so be it. Books connect with us individually for many reasons, don’t they?
The slow, childhood summers of Scout, Jem and Dill: The days were 24 hours long but they seemed longer. They went outside to play on their own, roaming, imaginations reeling with possibilities, wild stories, and wonderment. This was my life for a short time as a child and the book took me back to that time. Days spent doing everything you could think of and more, then finding out it was only 10 o’clock in the morning.
(My memory as an example of what I mean: For a few precious years, my mom and I lived in a big house with my grandparents and cousin. From that house, at 5 years old, I was allowed to ride my trike all around the block (a large block) where I could stop and visit each of the neighbours, be given cookies and pats on the head, steal flowers from overflowing rose bushes and finally stop two doors down on the other side of our house to have stewed tea, watch tv and plant flowers with Mrs. McBroom. She had polio (I knew the word at age 5 though of course I had no idea what it actually was) and she used to push herself around her house with one leg propped on a wooden stool. If I wasn’t in our backyard, I was over visiting Mrs. McBroom.)
The child’s curiousity, sometimes fear of the unknown and the slow awakening of understanding. Scout’s journey is one of darkness into light. She isn’t provided with full explanations. Scout is given bits and pieces of information about the adult world and she has to pull the full picture, the full context, together, which of course, she does poetically at the end of the book. Although Scout’s childhood, in some ways could be seen as idyllic (see above), there is also the underlying sadness arising from the death of her mother who she can’t remember. I was raised by a single parent so I connected with how Scout and Jem were protective of their remaining parent and reacted by standing with Atticus as an ally.
The overwhelming social justice issues that needed (still need) to be addressed. Bringing a global issued down to a personal daily level, the book opened my eyes to the individual effect of systemic, ingrained social injustice. I knew of prejudice of course but until this book I’m embarrassed to say I never thought about how it actually would make the person feel. One person, one to one. I knew it was wrong but in my mind, it wrong because it was wrong as I was raised by a mom who would have never would have thought of, much less used, a derogatory term against another person. Until reading this book I didn’t bring it down to how one’s choices were limited, how decisions would be limited. I had never considered how different my life would be, when I walked out my front door, if the colour of my skin was not white.
Now, the movie. This book is the only book that has ever been translated perfectly to the screen. The casting, the cinematography, the dialogue, the look. Everything is spot on. The movie is, in one word, breathtaking. It is my #1 favourite movie and I can't imagine that ever changing. Oh no, did I say 'movie'? I think another top ten list is in order!