Hope is the Word hosted a reading challenge this month to mark the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. When I joined up, I was hoping to read the novel, watch the movie version, and peruse the CliffsNotes.
I ended up listening to an unabridged audio version of the novel, read by Sissy Spacek, as the printed version never did come in at the library. I guess I wasn't the only person in Montana interested in reading it, this month.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story though, which was a pleasant surprise. When I signed up for the challenge, I didn't know anything about Harper Lee, or her novel, except that it was one of the American classics I had missed out on by attending high school in Canada I did read a good deal by Margaret Atwood, though. After flipping through the CliffsNotes, which arrived before the audio book, I wasn't so sure I wanted to read the story, about a black man falsely accused of rape, in a southern town.
I was happy to discover, that the novel is about so much more. In fact if anything, it reminded me of Beverly Cleary, with a backdrop of Mark Twain. It's the innocence of childhood, set in an imperfect, and often unpleasant world.
My mother grew up in the 30's in a small, southern, town, and so much of what Miss Lee wrote, reminds me of her reminiscences. I think maybe, her family would have been the Cunninghams in the book, the poor farmers, who sent their children to school barefoot, and never took what they couldn't repay, in one way, or another.
I asked my mother if she'd read the book. I was curious how she thought it matched up to her own childhood. But she answered very quickly, she had never read it, that in fact she'd, "seen enough of that kind of ugliness, growing up, and didn't care to read about it." I took that to mean the darker parts of the story are pretty well on the mark, too.
I have read that Harper Lee approved of the screenplay adaption of her novel. I thought a lot of the heart of the story was left behind in the book, and found the movie on the creepy side. But, even so, it's hard not to like Gregory Peck.
Overall, I'm very happy to have been introduced to To Kill A Mockingbird. The prose is easy, but involving. If it weren't for the adult content of the crime in question, it could be a children's novel.
I think what I enjoyed about it most, was the realization, that while Harper Lee's picture of childhood in America, matches my mother's, mine is closer to Beverly Cleary's, with the Mark Twain removed - and I think, that promises some hope for the future.
It's great to be a homeschooler.