This is the first novel that I ever read. I read it because of a book report that I did back in those high school years. A lot of my classmates picked Danielle Steel, Sidney Sheldon, and writers that are unheard of. I have to say that I made the most brilliant choice since it was only me who selected a true classic.
I came up with this choice thanks to the recommendation of a senior student who also chose this book for his book report. He was the editor-in-chief of the high school publication then. He even lent me his copy.
Thus said, I think this is the most appropriate novel to be first featured in this blog.
I still remember the characters: Jem, Scout, and Atticus. The series of events are now vague to me. What is still vivid to me is the fear that Jem and Scout have toward their neighbor Boo Radley. I even remember this part where Scout was dared to go inside the yard of the Radleys and touch their door. Such little adventures reminded me of my childhood.
This must be the reason the book is a required reading in most classes in the US. The prose is not hard to read; the vocabulary is just enough for one to be able to grasp what is going on. Also, it doesn’t seem very mature since the story unfolds in the eyes of two children, particularly Scout. But don’t get a too easy on it. Underneath that surface is a theme that recurs in a lot of classic novels.
Discrimination. A white man defending a black man accused of rape. Well, the white man happens to be the father of Jem and Scout. I do not remember where their mother is, but that is not necessary. The town questions Atticus Finch’s decision to defend this black man. I no longer remember if he won the case, but what I do remember is that the kids were affected by it. The family of three was ostracized from the rest, calling them things and condemning them for the choices that they are making.
But Atticus is a man of principle. How I respect that man! I am not sure if he faltered along the way, but he faced the situation with integrity. Integrity is indeed a big word, and when I try to think of a character who exhibits it, Atticus pops up in mind.
I also think that the novel tells us something about courage. During the last few chapters, and those are my favorite ones, Scout is attacked by someone while coming home from a stage play at school. I think this guy is a brother of the raped woman. I do not remember their family names. That scene was gripping; it has a very good pace. There doesn’t seem to be something fantastic about the attack, like a choreographed fight scene that is common in action movies or an armada of artillery, but the suspense that is built on it is too immense that you can’t control your eyes from racing through the sentences.
Anyway, Scout is saved by the person whom every kid in town was fearing, Boo Radley. Why they feared the person, I can no longer recall, but I remember there are a lot of horrible stories surrounding him. I think they thought of him as someone who ate kids and practiced cannibalism in general.
So there, Scout found a hero in this person that she imagined to be otherwise. Now, if I got things in order, this might have been a pivotal scene that helped Atticus win the case. As I mentioned, I am no longer sure, but I would like to think of it that way.
It has been a dozen years since I read this wonderful novel. The veracity of my account, and memory for that matter, is questionable. I should reread this novel, but with the humongous reading backlog that I have, I would need to put that off.
Nevertheless, this novel has a special place in me. It is this novel that made me want to read more. After finishing it and submitting my book report, which was graded an A minus, I read Danielle Steel. And Danielle Steel. And more Danielle Steel. I read a lot of her novels. I admit that during that time, I enjoyed them a lot, but looking back, I realize that her novels are unlike book that started it all. They are evanescent.
I bought a lot of Danielle Steel books back in high school, but they are all gone. That’s okay, because I’d rather have my copy of Harper Lee’s only novel than those. On that note, I often wonder why Harper Lee never published another novel. From what I researched, she was spoiled by the success of the novel, and from then on, she lived a life of seclusion. It’s even hard to squeeze something out of her. She once said that it’s better to keep quiet than to say something foolish.
Epic. I agree. But I would have loved to read more of her writings.