How I fell in love with To Kill A Mockingbird

The following is a guest post from my sister, Lisa of Boondock Ramblings, about how she fell in love with To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. With it being the 50th anniversary of the book, I only thought it appropriate that my sister share her story, especially after hearing it for the first time last week in a slightly altered form from my mother. I knew then that I had to have my sister do this guest post:

To Kill a Mockingbird

Image via Wikipedia

For some reason I decided in seventh grade that I wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The cover intrigued me, I suppose, and I cracked it open, ready to delve into a new world, like I had with the Little House on the Prairie series years before. I didn’t delve, I crashed into To Kill A Mockingbird and sat there, confused.

I couldn’t get into it. At all. I’m not sure why.

I remember telling Mom that I found myself unable to get into the book. She seemed shocked since the book had been such a treasure for her to read growing up. By that point, she’d probably read it 50 times since she was five. Mom’s family always told her she was born a little old lady and with a book in her hands. I’m pretty sure they were telling the truth.

“Sit with me,” she said and we sat at the kitchen table with the Formica® table top and she began to read.

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

She read in her Southern accent, from growing up in North Carolina — an accent that she hasn’t lost completely even after she and my dad moved to Pennsylvania.

Suddenly, I was transported into the world of Jem, Scout, Atticus and Boo Radley. I could see it all in my mind’s eye. A small Southern town, the characters in it. I closed my eyes and with my mother’s Southern drawl, gentle and smooth, I felt like I was right there, in that small Southern town.

Mom read the first chapter and handed me the book. I read it with Mom’s voice as the narrator. I ripped through it quickly, enjoying each page more than I imagined I would. A couple of years later the book was required reading for one of the English teachers at my school. I ended up with her for homeroom, but not for class. When she saw me with the book, she said something along the lines of “You’re already reading that? We don’t read it until next year.”

I informed her that not only was I reading the book, but I’d read it two years earlier. Thank you very much.

5 responses to “How I fell in love with To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. Pingback: The post where I admit I have the attention span of a gnat (TSS) | an unfinished person (in this unfinished universe)

  2. Okay UR, I’ll read it too. I’ve seen the movie several time, one of my husbands favorites. I never read the book and the books are always better than the movie. For instance isn’t the big brother in the movie called Jim? And I never knew he broke his arm. Books can get into characters heads the way a movie never can.
    Lisa, I’m jealous of the way your mom got you into that book. That is truly a memory I’m sure you will cherish always.

  3. Great story! I’ve never read the book myself, but thought I should when I heard about its anniversary. Yes, a drawl makes all the words sound better. I love reading book set in the south. It’s otherworldly to me. And it’s always hot as hell.

  4. One of my favorite all time books. And reading it with the accent is crucial to enjoyment. The movie made from this book is the only movie I have ever seen that was as good as the book. I still recommend reading the book but the movie is superb.