Customer Reviews for

To Kill a Mockingbird

Average Rating 4.5
( 1956 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

38 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, narrates this tale that covers roughly 2 years of her childhood starting from shortly before she started the 1st grade. The story is a mixture of many elements including a mysterious neighbor named Boo Radley, various coming of ...
Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, narrates this tale that covers roughly 2 years of her childhood starting from shortly before she started the 1st grade. The story is a mixture of many elements including a mysterious neighbor named Boo Radley, various coming of age issues regarding Scout and her brother Jem, and her father, Atticus, defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. As the story is set in Alabama in the 1930s, the rape case is particularly incendiary.
To Kill A Mockingbird is such a classic piece of American literature that most people read it in high school.
While there were a few descriptions of rural southern life that ran on a bit long for my taste, the novel was well worth reading. For sheer entertainment value, I enjoyed the Boo Radley subplot the most as it is, both, mildly suspenseful and immensely interesting.
Of course, the novel is most famous for the rape trial and this is also compelling in a fairly horrifying and very sad way. Harper Lee paints a vivid portrait of the extent to which African Americans were relegated to a status far below even second class in that place and time. Atticus Finch does a masterful job of defending the accused, but he knows that the all-white jury has practically cast their votes before ever entering the courtyard. The author uses the narrative voice of the children to highlight the blatant injustices and the outrage that any decent person would feel as a result. The technique is highly effective if not exactly subtle.
To Kill a Mockingbird is easy to recommend. The story is interesting, the characters substantial, and the subject is still relevant today. It's a shame that Harper Lee has not published a second novel but this single book is likely to ensure that her voice will continue to be heard for many years to come. A very good read.

posted by 148253 on October 31, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

30 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

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posted by 9114493 on August 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

    Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, narrates this tale that covers roughly 2 years of her childhood starting from shortly before she started the 1st grade. The story is a mixture of many elements including a mysterious neighbor named Boo Radley, various coming of age issues regarding Scout and her brother Jem, and her father, Atticus, defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. As the story is set in Alabama in the 1930s, the rape case is particularly incendiary. <BR/>To Kill A Mockingbird is such a classic piece of American literature that most people read it in high school. <BR/>While there were a few descriptions of rural southern life that ran on a bit long for my taste, the novel was well worth reading. For sheer entertainment value, I enjoyed the Boo Radley subplot the most as it is, both, mildly suspenseful and immensely interesting. <BR/>Of course, the novel is most famous for the rape trial and this is also compelling in a fairly horrifying and very sad way. Harper Lee paints a vivid portrait of the extent to which African Americans were relegated to a status far below even second class in that place and time. Atticus Finch does a masterful job of defending the accused, but he knows that the all-white jury has practically cast their votes before ever entering the courtyard. The author uses the narrative voice of the children to highlight the blatant injustices and the outrage that any decent person would feel as a result. The technique is highly effective if not exactly subtle. <BR/>To Kill a Mockingbird is easy to recommend. The story is interesting, the characters substantial, and the subject is still relevant today. It's a shame that Harper Lee has not published a second novel but this single book is likely to ensure that her voice will continue to be heard for many years to come. A very good read.

    38 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Read!

    I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.

    17 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

    Making Racism Real

    When I first looked at the book "To Kill A Mockingbird" I thought that it looked like a boring old book that I was going to be forced to read. I was one hundred percent positive that I would not like it one bit. But by the time I was on the 6th chapter I could not put it down. This book was amazing. Although it was written through the eyes of a six-year-old girl it is a very deep book. The concept of racism and prejudice in this book was shown perfectly through the eyes of Scout. The innocence that the victims, Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, showed was clear throughout the whole book. I enjoyed this book for several reasons. One is the fact that even though Harper Lee wrote this book in 1960 the book opened my eyes to the fact that the concept of racism and prejudice is still happening today. This was an interesting glimpse into this subject for me because I live in a very diverse community and all of my friends and peers are pretty tolerant of each others' differences. Reading this book taught me that racism could affect everyone. Using interesting characters and getting me involved in their personal stories made the issues of civil rights and racism more real to me. Usually when you have to read about racism it involves dates in a history book and people you can't relate to, but "To Kill A Mockingbird" was written in a way that was easy to read and more people can relate to Scout and her family. I also liked this book because it showed how growing up is an important and inevitable part of life. At some point you can't shelter children from every bad thing in the world that comes along. In the story, Atticus eventually had to sit down with Jem and Scout and explain to them about bigotry and what was going on in their community. He understood that they were growing up and, in turn, he set an example of what a good person was like. I liked how even though the book was written through Scout's eyes, Harper Lee still was able to catch how Jem was affected by having Scout observe the changes in her brother and talk to her Dad about it. Even though the book touches on more mature ideas and concepts, I feel that this book is a sure hit for all ages. This book is a true classic and unquestionably deserved the Pulitzer Prize.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Timeless Classic

    This is such a moving book. It is rich with southern texture. A coming of age tale in the Depression Era south, the book speaks to people today as much as it did when it was written. Every time I read it, I find that it tells me more about children, adults, feelings, and how we deal with one another as people. I also find that, each time I read it, I am uplifted.

    9 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2008

    A Memorable Must Read

    A definite Must Read for most any age. I'm a highschool student myself, though I read it on my own time because my mom recomended it, despite the fact several of my friends did not enjoy it. It's a real classic though, very well written that not only was it meaningful, but easy to get through. Before you knew it, you could be 100 pages in, only meaning to read 10. Harper Lee did an amazing job of developing not only her characters, but the whole feel of the small southern town, as well as a wonderful message something that's seriously lacking in many modern books, and though sometimes you'll wonder what a scene has to do with the book at all, it all comes together neatly at the end. Told from the eyes of a 8 year old growing up was a brilliant touch, giving a lot more emotion to it. An amazingly written book that everyone should read, To Kill A Mocking Bird will probably be a timeless classic, if it's not already.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2009

    Ehh.

    To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic, there's no doubt about it. Jean Louise "Scout" Finch is, herself, a timeless character, as well as her placid father, the lawyer Atticus Finch and curious brother Jeremy "Jem" Finch. The Finch family lives in a sleepy and conservative town in Alabama called Maycomb in the early twentieth century. In Maycomb, scandals are few and far between. The sparse population, to be frank, are closed-minded and old-fashioned, and not in a good way. Though large believers in politeness, the Maycomb residents are not themselves very polite. Despite these limitations, Scout and her brother somehow manage. Throughout the novel, Scout is presented with many challenges that come with growing up, many of which include her behavior and how she responds to people. Life for the Finch family changes drastically, and not for the better when Atticus decides to represent an African-American man named Tom Robinson in a case that accuses him of raping Mayella Ewell, a town local. The town lunges with bared teeth at this, as their beliefs don't include an African-American man ever being declared innocent in a courtroom. As far as they're concerned, Tom was voted guilty the moment he was accused. As children of Atticus, Scout and Jem are being constantly harassed by the residents, mostly their children. Scout is deeply bothered by this, but Atticus assures her to keep her pride and not let anyone tell her otherwise. During the trial, Atticus defends Tom brilliantly, making it very clear to the judge and jury that Tom could not have committed the offense, and that the blame lay squarely on the victim's father's shoulders. Even given this evidence, the jury still declares Tom guilty and the town is satisfied once more, although Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, feels humiliated and vows to get revenge on Atticus. This threat is not taken seriously, and the Finches continue with their normal lives. Meanwhile, Scout's Aunt Alexandra has come to stay, in order to be a mother figure for the two Finch children. Immediately, Aunt Alexandra finds fault with the way Atticus raised Scout, and tries desperately to turn Scout into a "proper lady". At first, Scout balks at the idea, but later in the story, toward the end, she decides that disappointing Aunt Alexandra is not the right thing to do, and so she makes attempts to fit in with the ladies of Maycomb. The climax of the story occurs when, on the way home from a school performance, Jem and Scout are attacked by a local with the evident intention of harming and killing them. Though, again, a timeless classic that belongs in every bookshelf, To Kill A Mockingbird is certainly no work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is more of a slower, quieter read for someone who doesn't find thrilling literature any good. Though extremely dull and a possible alternative to a sleeping pill as far as boring to sleep goes, it does, however, have very strong emotion that most novels lack, and for that I must applaud it.

    6 out of 41 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Disappointment

    When we were assigned to read this book in class, I was very eager to start. I had heard from all points of view that this book was fabulous. When my teacher gave us an outline of the book, she explained the Scottsboro Boys' Trials. What happend to the Scottsboro Boys is almost exactly what happend to Tom Robinson, except there were about 17 Scottsboro Boys. These trials went on while Harper Lee was growing up. The book isn't original: Scout is narrating through Lee's eyes watching the trial. For Scout, it is Tom's trial, for Lee, the Scottsboro Boys' Trials. Aside from that, the book is very slow. The characters talk in Southern dialect which makes it irritating to decipher. The book's ending has no purpose. Just another story full of hate and racism.

    6 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Time to Reread this Timeless Classic

    When I told friends that I had spent the weekend re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird, they were skeptical and even asked, "What do you have a test on Monday?" This classic tale of adolesence is part of our American fabric. Read as a student while you were in high school the injustice of racism screams to you. Read as a parent the themes of how to parent, how to let your child grow, how to accept your child for who she is, how to allow your child to grow up speak to you. If you haven't picked up Harper Lee's classic since high school, now is the time.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2010

    A Classic and Powerful Novel.

    To Kill a Mockingbird is a story that exposes the cruelty of prejudice toward the African American population in the 1930s. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl named Jean Louise Finch (Scout). Scout and her older brother Jem are raised by their widowed father, a lawyer named Atticus, in a small town of Maycomb County, Alabama. One Summer Scout and her brother meet a young boy named Dill who comes from Mississippi to spend the summer with her aunt. Scout, Jem and Dill become good friends and become fascinated with a man called "Boo" Radley, who has not been seen outside of his house for many years due to his scandalous past since he was in prison. Scout, Jem, and Dill believe Mr. Radley is a big and evil man. During this time in the South, racism and discrimination toward black people was common. Scout's father becomes a defense attorney for a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman.
    I really like To Kill a Mockingbird because it gives me a better understanding about how sometimes, we as people can be prejudiced and intolerant without reason. The book is an eye opener and shows an interesting glimpse into the cruelty that some people had to go through in the South during the 1930s. Reading this book shows the evil affect of racism.
    If I could suggest a change I would decrease the number of minor characters to gain a more personal view and also add a second point of view to get a different perspective aside from Scout's. I think with these changes would benefit the readers and keep the story more interesting. I recommend people read this book. I find it to be interesting , powerful and it makes a great statement on how justice can be changed by racism.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Best Contemporary American Novel Ever Written

    As a native of the Southern U.S., this book means a lot to me. I first read it in sixth grade in my English class. For those who aren't familiar with Harper's novel, the plot focuses on a small, Depression-era town in Alabama. A black man is accused of raping a white woman, and the town's well-respected lawyer and widower, Atticus Finch, decides to defend the accused.

    Narrated through the eyes of Atticus's daughter, Scout, Harper portrays the violence, prejudice, and feelings of the American South during a very difficult time. Atticus, unsurprisingly, incurs the wrath of the town for defending a black man, but ultimately wins the respect of his two children.

    'To Kill a Mockingbird' is a deeply moving and poignant story about childhood innocence, as Scout and her older brother try to understand the nature of violence and prejudice.

    Everyone should read this novel-period.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2010

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    I remember reading this for a class and I finished it before everyone else because it was an intriguing read.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 3, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Thought-Provoking and Emotional Story

    Thesis -- Atticus consistently parents by providing suggestions for dealing with difficult situations and holding his kids to high
    standards of behavior; thus laying the foundation for his children to grow up to be morally-centered citizens.

    One parenting strength of Atticus Finch is his ability to take the various scrapes and confusing situations his kids get into, and translate these instances into clear suggestions for Scout and Jem. One specific time Atticus gives this guidance is to his daughter Scout: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view." (Lee 30). In this part of the story, Scout asks her father why she has to follow the school rules while some of her classmates do not. Atticus explains the idea of empathy; that one person cannot truly know what someone else experiences unless he puts himself into their place. Instead of allowing Scout to simply jump to conclusions, Atticus advises Scout to use the communication tool of empathy, which she can use to understand other people better, and therefore be more productive in her dealings with others. Similar advice is given when Atticus reminds Scout that Miss Caroline probably also had a rough first day of school and Scout should remember that they both learned a lot today (Lee 30). This is a wise piece of advice because it will help Scout to be less judgmental and will help her get along with other people. By prompting her to consider views other than her own, Atticus is teaching Scout to become a caring member of society. So because of her father's guidance, no matter what circumstances society may present to her, Scout has learned to be a good person (and therefore a good citizen) by taking others into consideration before making judgments.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 3, 2010

    Great Book to Read Anytime

    To Kill A Mockingbird was a very good book. It was written well, had interesting characters, and was an interesting story. The words flowed nicely and had nice language. The characters were complex and fascinating. The characters were portrayed as real people trying to make a difference. They came across as remarkably ordinary people in a small town, but still made an impression on the reader. The story started off slowly. There was not much action and only hints of a real conflict. However, this was the point in the story in which the author introduced the character's personalities and prepared the reader to understand why some characters acted the way they did in Part 2 of the book. In the second part, the conflict was introduced subtly. It had been mentioned before, but only a little bit. As the story started moving along, the reader could see how the characters reacted to certain people and events, which set the way for the climax. I thought the author did a very nice job moving the story along at this point. The author kept the reader's attention and did not reveal everything, allowing the reader to think about the story and infer things from characters' actions. I really enjoyed reading this book and understand why this book is considered a classic and should be read by everyone.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2009

    To Kill a Mockingbird

    I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This book was about a middle aged lawyer named Atticus who was defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl. Because he was defending Tom Robinson Atticus' kids were getting made fun of by all the towns' people. All of this drama teaches them a lot of life lessons which helps them mature.

    The theme of this book was don't punish something if it did nothing wrong. I agree that if something is innocent you shouldn't punish it. Harper Lee does a great job in showing the theme and teaching that lesson to whoever reads her book. She states the theme in the book using a metaphor with a mockingbird. Atticus told Jem and scout not to shoot the mockingbirds, because they did not harm anything. They didn't ruin the crops they just sang beautiful songs for everybody to here. She also implies the theme with Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Also the story taught a lot about the racism back then. How the black people's church was a place white people gambled every day but Sunday. On top of that they didn't have enough money to get a bible for everybody. Another way Lee shows racism is how Jem and Scout got made fun of just because their dad was defending a black guy.

    My opinion about this book is that it was good it kept me very interested and taught me a valuable lesson. I was sad to hear she retired writing after To Kill a Mockingbird. She did really well on this book and I would have liked to read other books written by her. I liked how she wrote about something that was so real back then. How she used the racism and Tom Robinson being accused of rape to teach a lesson to people. Also the book was very interesting. I don't like to read and I couldn't put this book down after I started reading it. It's a bestseller and I can see why now. This is now one of my favorite books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A must-read classic novel

    I first read "To Kill A Mockingbird" when I was 10 years old. While I would not recommend it for most children that age, it became one of my favorite books; 42 years later, it is still a favorite. Harper Lee instilled such depth in each character and created such a rich portrait of a small Southern town, that this is a story to be read, re-read and cherished for a lifetime.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 16, 2008

    if you read, you won't forget

    See why everyone is talking about To Kill a Mockingbird. As, Miss Maudie, a character in the book, said, "...because it's a sin to kill a mockingbord..." Find out why Boo Radley never comes out, who Scout's father, Atticus Fitch really is and much more. Atticus is my favorite character in the whole book though because he stands for what he thinks is right and respects his children. Great book, and very toughing. Though not extremely exciting, there are intense parts.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2008

    Enduring

    I read this classic for a group discussion for a book group, and I hadn't read it since I was a child. Its theme of racial injustice is not as powerful as it probably was upon its initial publication in 1960, but the overriding theme of the death of innocence endures. The plot, which lacks pacing at times, is not the book's strongest element the real reason the book endures is because of Lee's flowing prose (copied shamelessly and often: see The Secret Life of Bees for example) and strongly drawn characters, most of whom were based on real-life relatives, friends and neighbors.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2013

    excellent book about the adventurous of scouts and jims summers

    excellent book about the adventurous of scouts and jims summers and how its a sin to kill a mockingbird

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2011

    BOOOOOORING!

    I had to read this for class. It made the list of the 10 most boring books I've ever read. And I have read a lot of books.

    2 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent novel!

    This is a must read at any High School or College level!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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