Harper Lee’s prequel to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ certainly feels just like the fat that got trimmed off and discarded from her previous work.
It’s not that the book is bad per se, but it certainly isn’t good either. If, like me, you reread To Kill a Mockingbird before starting, the difference between both is stark.
The language is different, the feeling is different. Gone is the innocence present in Scout’s storyline. No more Jem (I don’t want to even get into how casually he was bumped off, having had to re-read the sentence several times in disbelief). Dill is replaced by a whole new character, Herb, who is introduced as being a family friend from childhood (although the ties Lee tries to introduce between the children just doesn’t work as well).
Then there is the fact, that Lee tries to completely ruin the high expectations put in place for Atticus Finch. From before-his-time hero he turns into a conformist and doddery racist.
It’s that us and them attitude that makes this book all the more bewildering. I will admit that it didn’t strike the chord that ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ will always have in my heart. Excepting the baptism bit, which saw them dunk their heads in a water bucket, the feeling was completely gone.
It’s a tragic turn of events to understand that despite what Atticus stood for, nothing much had changed in the years. Justice was not, in the end, for all.
Creative commons photo courtesy of ryaninc