My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Nelle Harper Lee wrote and published To Kill a Mockingbird, winning the Pulitzer in 1961, along with many other awards, later becoming an international bestseller, and ultimately a classic in American literature.
Much of the book is loosely based on her experiences of racism in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where she was the daughter of a lawyer. Even several characters of her novel are named after her mother Frances Cunningham Finch, and the young boy named Dill in the novel is further based on her childhood friend Truman Capote. In 1962, the book was made into a movie with Gregory Peck.
What strikes me most about this novel is that it becomes political without trying to, and it’s an easy reminder of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin that changed the course of American history (some claiming her book started the Civil War).
Nevertheless, To Kill a Mockingbird did have a tremendous impact on race relations in the United States, and librarians recently voted it the best novel of the twentieth century.
What I liked most about it is the nostalgia of home it brings for me. Lightning bugs. Crazy old aunts and neighbors. Growing up with older siblings. Porch swings. Mystery during childhood. Trying to understand a far bigger and greater world than we can ever come to know. And the small town feeling that is becoming lost in America. Harper Lee did in fact write a great American novel, and rightly so it has lasted, and will last several more generations.
After all these years, I have heard much about this book and one of the principal characters, besides Atticus Finch (father and lawyer), Boo Radley always predominated much of the conversation; however, Boo doesn’t make an official appearance until the last few chapters of the novel, and what a denouement it becomes, despite being the first sentence of the first page: ‘When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.’
Harper’s sentences are lean and precise and the story of a young girl, Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch, becomes an innocent glimpse into growing up in the Deep South in 1935. And the writing is all story:
‘When she squinted down at me the tiny lines around her eyes deepened. “There’s some folks who don’t eat like us,” she whispered fiercely, “but you ain’t called on to contradict ’em at the table when they don’t. That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear?’ ” (pg 27)
And how can one not love Atticus: “Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win” (pg 87).
And also the origin of the title: ‘That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (pg 103). ‘
So shall you sing your heart out.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a very strong recommend, and I pray for all to have a chance to experience such a beautiful story.
You may also be interested in:
CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.
CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists, such as Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5