When I first picked up this book, I was at a small bookstore located at the movies theatre in Antwerp. The shop owner recommended me the book. I wanted to read it, because it is a true American classic and I was intrigued by the story. I was also intrigued by the fact that Harper Lee only wrote two books and I wondered why. I admire her for writing two thick novels, but it kept me wondering why she stopped after two.
To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in Alabama during the Great Depression. The story is told by the youngest of the two children, Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch. She and her brother are living and going to school in a sleepy Southern town where they are growing up with their father Atticus. A well-known and respected lawyer with high moral standards that eventually gets a lot of critic when he decides to defend a black man, Tom, that gets assaulted for rape. Things change rapidly for the two kids of Atticus from then on.
At the beginning I found the story took off a bit slow. It read slow. Not a lot of exciting things happen at first. But when I finally finished the book, I realised that Harper Lee put so many meanings into this novel. It is basically about ethics. It focuses on your gut instinct of what is right and wrong.
The book itself was published in 1960 and when you go back, it was a changing period in history in America. Women's rights and black rights movements were beginning to emerge. In the time setting of the book, the Great Depression, when rights for black people had only just been won, the odds are cruelly turned against lawyer Atticus Finch and his black client. I thought it was so unfair, like his children, but than I realised: inequality is everywhere. When you come to think of this book, that seems so simple and maybe boring to some, for the children in this novel inequality is indeed everywhere. It is hidden in everyday actions, comments they pick up. Colour, race, background - these are all values that the adults of the little Southern town in the novel hold so dear. It only takes these two children with their open mind to see how very wrong they are.
Here's more about the book (via Goodreads):
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Price in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
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. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as masterpiece of American literature.
All photos taken by Inge Picqueur for Jules & Louis.