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16 June 2014

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has won many awards - including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - with good reason: it is an important and excellent book.

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch and her brother Jem live in the Maycomb, Alabama. Their father is Atticus Finch, a lawyer, who is about to go to trial defending a black man who is accused of raping a white woman - in 1935... in the South.

Scout and Jem are raised by their father and the cook, Calpurnia. As their world view slowly grows - first with their neighborhood, then school and the larger town - Scout learns lessons about life. Written with intelligence and wit, Lee captures the development of childhood in a time of racial prejudice. When the trial starts, she must learn to stop fighting the people who say mean things about her father.

And as the trial unfolds, the family reflects on the state of affairs - how some people can treat other differently based only on the color of their skin, not on their own merit. And how people can ignore fact in the face of that prejudice.

Though written in 1960 and set in 1935, To Kill A Mockingbird still has lessons to teach readers. It is a sad fact that we, as a society, are not as evolved as we like to think and books like this one are important lenses into our past and possible futures.

Lee, Harper. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper.

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