"We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow moldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read." - Jules Verne
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

TO KILL a MOCKINGBIRD (audiobook) by Harper Lee


Published by Harper Audio in 2008
Originally published in 1960
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Voted "Best Novel of the Century" in a Library Journal poll
Read by Sissy Spacek
Duration: 12 hours, 17 minutes

I almost feel silly writing a review for a book that is nearly universally regarded as one of the best, if not THE best, novels written in the last century. This book is read in schools across the country, was adapted into an amazingly successful movie that is as highly regarded as the book. This book is not just respected - it is loved.

I also hate to admit that it had been nearly 25 years since I had read To Kill a Mockingbird. Although I remembered that I loved the book, I had really forgotten why.

So, when I was offered the chance to review this audio version by the publisher for free I jumped it at. It had been such a long time that I needed to remind myself why it was so great. 

I am not going to waste everyone's time by re-telling the story in detail. Harper Lee creates a wonderfully rich world set in a small town in Alabama during the Great Depression. The story is told from the point of view of young "Scout" Finch. Scout starts as a first grader but the story progresses through several years. She lives with her brother Jem and her father Atticus, an attorney. Her daily life at home is maintained by the African American housekeeper Calpurnia who treats Jem and Scout like they are her own children. Later, her aunt moves in to provide a more permanent feminine role model in the house.

In the first part of the book, Scout's world comes to life as Harper Lee takes the time to lay out her world for us. In the second part of the book, this world is interrupted by an outrageous court case in which Atticus is appointed to defend a black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. The third part of the book deals with the consequences of that case. 

Harper Lee (born in 1926)  in c. 1962. 
But, the book is so much more than that. I grew up in a small town in Indiana and her descriptions of the rhythms of childhood play in the summer felt so true to me that the characters become so real that I felt like I actually knew them in my own childhood. 

Sissy Spacek's reading of this book is as timeless as the book itself. The decision not to have her actually change voices as she reads the story was a brilliant stroke. Most audiobook readers change voices and make separate voices for each of the characters even if it is told from the point of view of just one of the characters. Spacek keeps the entire story in the voice of Scout because the entire story is told from her point of view. It is her story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. I found myself listening to it whenever I could. I happily rate it 5 stars out of 5.

See my review of Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman here.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here:  To Kill a Mockingbird.

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