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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two mini reviews - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Toni Morrison's Sula

Harper Lee's book has got umpteen good reviews. I had read the book when I was college age but had completely forgotton the story. I think that some classics have to be read or rather re-read once one has got older, wiser and maybe more street smart! It certainly created more impact for me at this age than it did before.

Narrated by a six year old (a bit precocious it seems right from the start) but attributed to being brought up by a "different" kind of father, no mother, and a substitute mother figure in the form of Calpurnia! Scout forgets half the time she is a girl and it is only at the latter part of the book that this realization does set in. The story set in a small town in Alabama with its deep seated prejudices and small town failings also illustrate the implacable unwritten laws in society which you would break at great peril. Very few would dare to do so. One of them is the twin's father - Atticus - who tries to right a wrong unsuccessfully in the face of overwhelming public opinion against him, of a society that thinks only in black and white literally and figuratively and cannot think of any shade in between.

For a non American, the book is an eye opener of the prejudices that prevailed in small town America. It also sets a pace of small town life and how easy it is for two happy children who grow up well cushioned from the harsh realities of life. The twins life to a great extent influenced by their father who has very idealistic ideas of right and wrong and how tough it is for children when they do realize that there is a harsher world out there.

This is a must read specially for those not born in America!!!

My next book was different - again set in a small town called Medallion in Ohio. Two young African American women face a future which is changing. A change which is huge for them - from a subservient society into which they were born, they will see the beginning of a Change. One of the girls goes away into the big world and returns ten years later to find that change has not come to Medallion as much as she expected. There is a lot of very heavy emotion in the story - a fair amount of tragedy and the effort made to maintain a friendship depite overwhelming odds. The question of morality is portrayed in different ways where one is made to question what exactly does morality mean as it means different things to different people.

This was my first foray into Morrison and this was not an easy read for me. Disturbing but not easy.


bermudaonion said...

To Kill a Mockingbird was an eye opener even for those of us who live in the US. It also showed us how to conduct ourselves with grace and dignity. I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.

Jenny Girl said...

Mockingbird is an excellent read and portrays an unfortuante time in U.S. history. Some Americans still haven't read this book and it's a shame. Excellent review.

chasingbawa said...

To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favourite books at school. Considering it deals with such difficult subjects such as segregation, civil rights and rape, it was immensely readable. However, I probably need to re-read it too. I haven't read any books by Toni Morrison, although I've bagged myself a couple of books a few weeks ago. Looking forward to reading them.