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"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is available from You can also read this review on my personal blog (in Portuguese).

To Kill a Mockingbird is a modern American Classic and winner of a Pulitzer prize. I must admit I got curious to read it after seeing several references about it in movies like Capote and Failure to Launch. Oddly enough I have yet to see the actual movie based on the book which has acquired fame in its own right, winning three Oscars in 1963 including one for Gregory Peck. I think it is better this way though, as I had a chance as much as possible to form an unbiased impression of the book.

The plot is set around a lawyer from the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white girl in the early 1900s. Not much novelty in that, just one more amongst the many cases of racism and segregation in the America at that time. What brings beauty and an tone of immortality to Harper Lee's text is that the story is told through the eyes of a little girl, Scout Finch, daughter of the lawyer, Atticus Finch. Scout is a tomboy. Since her mother died when she was still a baby, she and her brother, Gem Finch, have been raised by her father and Cal, the housemaid. Scout is very forward for her age, opinionated, and her behavior is far from what is expected from a young lady of Maycomb society.

With an upfront and direct personality and the innocence that is characteristic of children, Scout introduces us to Maycomb with all its qualities, injustices and idiosyncrasies. In her narrative, Scout is not always aware of the many layers of complications existing in the facts she describes, her innocence makes her somewhat naïve, but the incongruence and unfairness of the situation are not lost on the reader.

The war between the few citizens that believe in a fairer world in which all men are equal and the crowd that prefers to keep the status quo has the expected ending, but that doesn't matter. What really matters, according to Atticus Finch, is to do the right thing, to be able to walk tall, and to look your children in the eye without shame, assured of having given them the best example possible.

I was expecting this to be a difficult book to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is very touching to see the story unfold while Scout grows up along with it. I highly recommend it.


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