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Stories from an Indian Millennial

Why To Kill A Mockingbird should be on your reading list : Not a review

I usually carry a book while I travel but on my last trip, I somehow decided to make an exception. After a pitstop in Jaipur, I was travelling to my hometown, Dehradun where my brother has an extraordinary collection of books. So I thought, if I felt like reading, I would pick something from his library. But it never went that far. On my very first day at home, I found ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, 50th edition lying on the coffee table just like that. If you are a reader, you would have read or definitely heard about this 1960s classic. A few days back, I had seen the book on my Instagram feed and had made a mental note of reading it someday. Like those some days that never really come.
Seeing the book on the coffee table, I felt as if it was waiting for me, to be read! It sounds silly, right? But have you wanted to read a book or was just curious about it and then it was gifted to you or you just found it in your friend’s closet? Do you believe books have a way of choosing you? Ok, let me not freak you out, here!
So, I quickly turned to the back of the book to read the synopsis. My first impression was that it sounded like a serious and a bit grave book. I started anyway because you don’t put down a classic without giving it that reader’s glance. And now, here I am talking about it.
I just felt I had to share my experience with this book. I don’t so much believe in reviewing a book, especially a legendary one such as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. I instead believe in sharing my experience, the emotions it brought out and what I read between the lines within and beyond the main storyline.

So how does the book feels?
In one word the book is a ‘breeze’. The world through the eyes of Scout Finch, a 6-year-old girl is uncomplicated, filled with carefree summer holidays and all about finding Boo Radley.

This book will take you back to your own summer holidays, that smell of grass, and those moments filled with drinking fresh lemonades on the porch. It will remind of you, of the adventures of childhood and how black and white the affairs of the world looked, back then.

The Narration
The story takes time to build up. I went in with the impression made by the synopsis and was anxious for the main story to start. It doesn’t so until one is almost midway through the novel. After 50 odd pages, I decided to let go of my expectations and instead go with the flow. I started to get involved in the world of young Scout and Jem Finch and their relentless hunt for Boo Radley and their relationship with their father, Atticus Finch.
The narration is simple and discusses the most controversial and complicated issues such as class divide, parenting, moral integrity along with the main plot of racial inequality in the most simplistic manner. Even while addressing these serious issues, the book never once loses its charm or subtlety of its humour. The storytelling has a lightness to it with a heartwarming feel.
Even though the book is written during the America of the 1960s, it is still hugely relevant for the 21st century. The context and the message of this book crosses lines of border and culture. Don’t we all come across injustice, class disparity, racial discrimination, irrespective of where we are right now? As an Indian, I can say it is very much relevant to our country’s context where class divide, colour bias and the need to put women in certain kind of behaviour box exists.

The Other stories from the book
Though the main story of the case of a black man accused of raping a white girl revolves around racial disparity, there are several storylines and small incidents that bring out the strong messages and leave an impression of their own.

The Class Disparity
The class divide in the small town of Maycomb is representative of the world then and the world of today. Its subtle yet deep portrayal touches upon on the prejudices with which we discriminate among people based on where they belong, what they do and what there financial standing is. The story then contrasts it with the innocent and impartial view of two young kids, Scout and Jem. You’d realise that the world would be a lot better place if kids ruled it:)

The Parenting Tip
The character of Atticus, a single parent to Scout and Jem gives some fine examples of perfect parenting. It demonstrates that parenting is perseverance, persistence and full of tactics yet transparent. In today’s world of helicopter parenting, it showcases how to gently mould the character of a child without being an iron hand. I personally found it more progressive and exemplary.

Morality and Strong Character is never out of fashion
The book gives a strong message that even if you know you are going to eventually lose, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand up for what is right. Atticus character makes a strong case for rooted moral values and courage of righteousness. It tells that even a small dent is the beginning of the change. It conveys that the act of men and women of today will define the character of those of tomorrow. Isn't’ our history full of examples of how the big change started with small steps?

Jem and Scout as the brother-sister duo are so relatable and fun. The story beautifully captures their journey through the thick and thin. They both are ready to fight tooth and nails for each other and sometimes with each other too. It also captures an ever-evolving relationship between siblings as time clock ticks. You will definitely find glimpses of you and your sibling in them.

The Gender Bias
Scout’s encounters with her Aunt Alexandra, casts some light on the gender bias. It through these encounters touches upon the bias women inflict on their own tribe by creating a box of behaviour, etiquettes or dressing where every woman should fit in. The character of Scout is too young to understand this bias but the confusion in the mind of a little girl and her attempts to sometime reluctantly fit in is a lesson for the grown-ups that it is us who can condition our girls to be a daredevil, not docile.

What’s my favourite line from the book?
"...before I can live with other folks I have got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

Truman Capote, the author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s on this book:
‘Someone rare has written this very fine novel, a writer with the liveliest sense of life and the warmest, most authentic humour. A touching book; and so funny, so likeable.’

Convinced enough to make it your next read? Buy ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on Amazon here!

If you have already read it, care to share your views in the comments below?

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Note: The Amazon product mentioned in this post is an affiliate link.

I am a writer by passion, a petroleum engineer by accident and a proud Indian by origin. Follow my stories on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

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