To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeIn honor of Harper Lee’s 88th birthday today, we are pleased to re-post this review of her seminal novel that we ran in back 2010 for the fiftieth anniversary of its publication.

I have debated writing about To Kill a Mockingbird.  There have been so many reviews of this book, and so much has already been said.  What was left for me to say?  But, this week is the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of this timeless classic.  How could I not write a few words?

I do not need to review the story.  Atticus Finch, his children Scout and Jem,  the reclusive neighbor  Boo Radley almost feel like family to most of us.  This indelible story of race, class, and growing up in the Deep South of the 1930s was relevant at its publication and is still today.

Published in July 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was picked up by the Book-of-the-Month Club and the Literary Guild. A condensed version of the story appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine.  It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961.  Horton Foote wrote a screenplay based on the book and used the same title for the 1962 film adaptation.   Earning eight Academy Award nominations, the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird won four awards, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch.

Not everyone has embraced the novel.  Over the years there have been many challenges by parents or groups who have wanted To Kill a Mockingbird banned from libraries and school curriculum.  The objections focus on some of the language and the racial themes of the novel.  In 2004 it was challenged at Stanford Middle School in Durham, N.C.

To Kill a Mockingbird remains a major work of fiction.  It has been translated into more than forty languages, and has sold more than thirty million copies worldwide. It has never been out of print, in either hard back or paperback.   Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.

Harper Lee never wrote another book.   Although she did collaborate on the making of the film, visiting the set during filming and granting  interviews to support the film,  she soon retreated from public view.  She seldom grants interviews or makes public appearances.  Even the hoopla of this 50th anniversary has not brought her out.

Libraries and book stores throughout the country will be commemorating To Kill a Mockingbird this summer.  Take this opportunity to revisit (or read for the first time) this amazing book.

Find and reserve this book in our catalog

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