‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, is it a textbook for racism? A Review


GENRE: Classics · Fiction · Historical · Young Adult 


I listened to the audiobook – To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee narrated by Sissy Spacek on Audible.

To be honest, I started reading this book with a pinch of salt, simply because of the humongous praise which follows this book. I think I was afraid of it turning out to be overrated for me. But, after reading it I am officially joining the band, forever committed to singing high praises for ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and happy to do so.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ takes place during 1930s, in Maycomb, a small fictional town of Alabama, USA. The book is a coming of age story of Scout (aka Jean Louise Finch), a little girl who lives with her elder brother, Jem and a lawyer father, Atticus.

The book started out a bit slowly for me and it took me a few chapters to get into it. It was mainly due to it being written from a child’s perspective which didn’t hook me instantly. The other reason was the thick southern accent (I was listening the audiobook) which took me a little time to get used to.

But of course, by the fourth/fifth chapter I was grateful for Scout’s perspective and was enjoying the thick southern accent, y’know!

This book flows with utmost swiftness with not a dull moment between the two siblings. Their pure innocence and undying curiosity make the readers get to relive their own childhood days.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ tackles the most gravest issues like racism, discrimination, morality, and humanity responsibly with its simple narration. Atticus upholds all the burden on his shoulders, shining like a beacon of righteous and heroism, making the readers almost wish for a similar figure in their childhood days.

As one gets to know the characters, they feel extremely real, with all their quirks and prejudices, notwithstanding the time or geographical constraints.

I simply loved Scout for her fearlessness, her tenacity and even her temper. Atticus was such a balanced mature man in all the right ways and especially his parenting style made him an all-time memorable character for me. And Jem, who was perfect in every little way a boy with the responsibility of being a big brother could be, owned my heart.

All the other smaller characters like Calpurnia, Dill, Mr. Radley, Miss Maudie, Heck Tate, Judge Taylor and even Aunt Alexandra were enjoyable and special in their own way.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a marvelous read.

The only critique I have is not for the book itself but for its perception of being a sole representative of race relations in USA. This book doesn’t tell the story of its black characters most of whom are mere props for the story of a white (privileged) girl written by a white woman.

As readers, we never get a chance to resonate with Tom Robinson, a black man who was falsely accused of raping a white woman, or the struggles of his widow. Even his death hardly registers in the readers’ minds, readers who are more busy worrying about Jem sensitivities making it a white narrative.

But still, all this doesn’t take away anything from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. It still remains a valued piece of literature and should be read, just not as a textbook for racism. I think that purpose might be better served by the books written by African-American people on the subject which could tell their side of the story for a change.

I would recommend this book to everyone. If you don’t have the time for a paperback, you can listen to the audiobook. But read this you must!

Have you read it? What do you think? Which books do you think tell the other side of the coin?

6 responses to “‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, is it a textbook for racism? A Review”

  1. This book is eloquent in its imagery. Harper Lee took seven years to write it. I think sometimes you read a book and get your fix, your jollies, the. You read a book and the lines could make you weep. To me, this book is art. Up for the sequel? I haven’t read it yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! I have loved this book immensely, it is simply perfection. And yeah I know what you mean…books are powerful beyond measure, they can make you whole with one line and utterly miserable by the next.
      Wanted to read the sequel so bad but after reading so many (not so positive) reviews on Goodreads, it has put a damper on my plan for now. But I am sure I will have to read it very soon just to satisfy the annoying bug inside my head.


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