I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school just like every single other American student. I didn’t really remember it, except that there were a couple of little kids hell-bent on pestering their weirdo recluse neighbor, Boo Radley. They made it their life’s mission to get him out of the house and into the light of day.
I’ve decided recently to go back and reread all the books I was forced to read for English class, because there is a big difference between having to read a book to pass a test and reading a book for pleasure. Turns out I was slightly off in my memories of Mockingbird‘s plot. While my high school self focused on Boo, my more mature (ha) self discovered the real meat of the story in the racial issues and the court case which I had no memory of whatsoever. Clearly I just memorized what I needed to pass and then promptly forgot all of that information to make room for Spice Girls lyrics and the combinations to my friends’ lockers.
Tom Robinson is an African American man accused of raping a white woman, and Atticus is his lawyer. He knows he doesn’t stand a chance at winning the case because a jury would never find in favor of a black man over a white person, but he gives it his all and knows that Tom is not guilty. The book is narrated by Scout, who is only nine, but surprisingly she understands a lot more than the adults give her credit for. She knows that it’s wrong to treat people differently because of the color of their skin, and she knows that it’s important to do the right thing even if it’s not popular.
Rosa and I read Mockingbird every night for the past week or so and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We’re now moving on to Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer. I didn’t have any idea what the book was about, but my favorite author recommended it and someone else described it as “really weird,” so I figured it was right up my alley. I’m halfway through Chapter Two right now and already there are astronauts and a woman with a dying mother (oh, the irony).