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:
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.