Monday, November 25, 2013

The Book That Almost Never Was

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If the total output of your entire career should include only one thing, make it something special.

Not only was To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee's only novel, at one point she nearly destroyed it. That would have been a terrible loss, for - coming from an insular, white-New England upbringing - this book was a game changer for me and my young outlook on life and race relations. Having read it as a youth, it's coming-of-age or loss-of-innocence theme spoke to me while the idea of equal rights for all held by the "liberal" Southern Atticus Finch seemed heroic and opened my eyes to the closeted bigotry around me. I know I'm not alone in my reaction and the effects it had upon me.

Perhaps Lee didn't write another novel, because she took to heart the maxim "write what you know" and this was the one and only novel within her. It seems a shame such a good writer should have produced and be judged by only one book, but at least she made that one book something special.

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