Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
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Harper Lee's classic novel of a lawyer in the deep south defending a black man charged with the rape of a white girl
One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It won the Pulitzer Prize, has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recently, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the twentieth century.
‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.’
I recall reading this for the first time early on in school, in junior high possibly, and I can definitely say that the powerful message behind the book was completely lost on me at the time. As wonderful and inspirational as it is, it’s also much more complex and layered than my memory served. This is a book that teaches tolerance, morality and ethics, about the senselessness of violence and the differences between right and wrong. Doing what’s right meant something vastly different down South in the 1930s when Mockingbird was set and also in the 1960s when first published, however, even 50+ years later, it’s sad to see that we still deal with these issues to this day even if it may not necessarily be on the same large scale. This story still manages to retain significant meaning and teach us something about humanity regardless of time or place.
“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
In addition to the various storylines that serve to teach an important lesson is the full cast of amazing characters that act out these life lessons. Atticus Finch, by far my favorite character, is a man that saw everyone as his equal. He believed this wholeheartedly and was willing to put his very livelihood on the line to fight for those rights. He was able to accept the differences in all of us and see the true bottom line: regardless of race, color, gender or any of the multitudes of ways that not only make us who we are but also separates us from the rest, at the end of the day we are all the same; we’re all human beings. This world would be a far better place with a few more Atticus Finch’s in existence.
As simplistic as this story is delivered, it’s actually deceptively significant. It’s not a preachy how to guide on how to be a decent person but instead it’s the didactic story of one man’s fight for what’s right.
Notes on the narration: Sissy Spacek delivered an amazing narration with her authentic Southern accent that had me listening well past my bedtime. I couldn’t imagine Scout sounding any other way. Listen below for a clip to the audiobook.