I am working on book II of my Agnes Kelly Series and someone had compared Agnes (in the first book) to Scout in To Kill a Mocking Bird. I thought that was an apt description so I wanted to reacquaint myself with the famous story and character. I took the audio book of Harper Lee’s classic out of the library and listened to it. I have not read Lee’s Go Set a Watchman but I will, even though it hasn’t gotten the best reviews.
Stats: First published in 1960, print is 324 pages, audio is 9′, narrated by Roses Prichard
Blurb: (Goodreads) Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos.
(Cliffnotes) To Kill a Mockingbird is primarily a novel about growing up under extraordinary circumstances in the 1930s in the Southern United States. The story covers a span of three years, during which the main characters undergo significant changes. Scout Finch lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small, close-knit town, and every family has its social station depending on where they live, who their parents are, and how long their ancestors have lived in Maycomb.
A widower, Atticus raises his children by himself, with the help of kindly neighbors and a black housekeeper named Calpurnia. Scout and Jem almost instinctively understand the complexities and machinations of their neighborhood and town. The only neighbor who puzzles them is the mysterious Arthur Radley, nicknamed Boo, who never comes outside. When Dill, another neighbor’s nephew, starts spending summers in Maycomb, the three children begin an obsessive — and sometimes perilous — quest to lure Boo outside.
What I liked: Roses Prichard does a wonderful job with her narration. She is the perfect Scout, making you feel like she’s right there telling you her family’s story. Much has been said about this story and I’ve read it before, of course, but listening to it as a writer vs a reader I think it is a story of a time in history and the lives in this small southern town that Lee captures so well. Everyone remembers the high points: the trial, Boo Radley, but there are many other slower moments that illustrate the everyday lives of these characters.
What I didn’t like: When the book first came out, I wonder if anyone criticized Lee for the large words Scout uses throughout the book. As an adult, it’s entertaining to hear Scout use these words, but as a practical point, I’m not sure a six-year-old would have really known half of them. I understand her father had been reading and instructing her way before she started school, but still… The Cliffnotes explanation is that Scout is older when she’s recounting the story, but it’s not written from an adult perspective, so I don’t buy that.