“I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.”
This will be less of a formal review and more of a short personal reaction to the novel, which will probably not earn me any brownie points. I understand that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those towering American classics--according to most surveys, it reigns as the quintessential American classic--but I recall feeling very underwhelmed. Don't get me wrong, I don't think it is a terrible novel that lacks substantial merit but it failed to leave a profound impression on me. Having never been forced to read it during high-school (it still eludes me why it was never assigned as part of the curriculum--perhaps it has something to do with the trifling Canadian education system), I took the initiative three years ago to read it myself and see what this overwhelming praise is all about. Unfortunately, it left me cold and indifferent. Soon afterwards, I even watched the movie and found it mediocre at best. Is it sacrilegious to claim Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel as overrated? I would definitely have to read this novel again and come up with substantial evidence from the text in order to back up such a contentious assertion but solely from a personal stand-point, I found the characters to be stereotypical and flat; the prose clunky and dull; the story uneven and torpid in its pacing.
I was able to find my initial response written three years ago after finishing the novel:
"Childhood innocence clashes with racism and social idealism in the American south during the 1930's. Perhaps my expectations were a bit too high but this novel did nothing for me--it is far too black and white, literally."
I think that one of my biggest problems with the novel is that it deals with race in a far too simplistic manner. Perhaps that is what I meant by it being too "black and white" but since the story is told from Scout's perspective, maybe she only understands race through a confined and naive childhood lens? I don't know. Maybe I failed to fully grasp the novel's true intentions and purpose.
For those of you who love this novel, I would be very curious to know why you feel this way. Or perhaps you can try to explain to me why I must be crazy for not thinking this is one of the greatest American novels, ever. :P