My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are some books which simply deserve to be called masterpieces right from the beginning and Harper Lee’s story is one such example. It is astonishing to think that this was the author’s one and only novel and as a writer I find myself envious of her skill as a craftsman which combine with a message as relevant today as it was when published in 1960. Although now the theme of racism is a little diminished over time, the greater theme of prejudice and hypocrisy – which occur in a myriad number of ways – is just as important now as it was then.
But it isn’t just the themes which make this book so special. Lee’s treatment of every character is perfect too. You can’t help but love the kids, admire Atticus and pity Tom Robinson let alone enjoy, hate and be surprised by the many other figures which feature throughout the tale. This is a book about what makes us human and who we are – or what we become – when tensions arise. In this case it is how a town reacts to the alleged rape of a white girl by a black man. But it’s more than that; the book asks a fundamental question: inside,are we good or are we bad?
As with all good books, Harper Lee only hints at her own answer given through the final words uttered by Atticus, but she leaves the jury out for us as readers to decide ultimately for ourselves.