I Kill the Mockingbird

Kids will relate to this YA novel about being assigned summer reading. It’s short — just over 100 pages — and easy to read, although that means a certain lack of depth to the characters. Although they have dramatic events in their backgrounds, it doesn’t make up for how the reader never gets a sense of the cast as real, substantial people. Perhaps that allows for more identification with the kids, imagining themselves as part of the core family.

Lucy loves To Kill a Mockingbird. When it’s assigned as one of a group of novels for the students to read over the summer, she and her friends Elena and Michael come up with a plan to get more attention for the book — they start hiding copies in bookstores and libraries and launch a website called iKilltheMockingbird.com. The idea is that a decline in supply will increase demand; when told they can’t have something, people will want it more and actually read the book.

It’s a clever concept, but it plays out too cleanly. Although mostly up-to-date in terms of social media, I found the resolution unbelievable in our litigious, blame-casting society.

It’s great to see a love of reading drive a YA novel, but the most significant passage about To Kill a Mockingbird in the book is actually a criticism of its racist characters and how Atticus Finch isn’t a very good lawyer. I would have appreciated more indication of why the kids love the book, beyond that it was promoted by a beloved, now gone teacher. Then again, driving someone to re-read it seems to be one of the goals of this book.

The language is snappy and the book moves along quickly. The individual chapters have excellent, eye-catching titles and make up interesting scenes, although they sometimes don’t all tie together. Despite being less than well-developed, I liked the characters enough that I wanted to spend more time with them. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)

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