This year, as you may already know, marks the 50th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I first read To Kill a Mockingbird back in eighth grade, but I tend to forget book plots. With all the talk going on because of the big anniversary, I decided to listen to the book to refresh my memory. When I began, I didn’t remember much of the story at all, beyond a few character names and some extremely vague plot points. It was almost like reading the book for the first time.
The book, set in Maycomb County, Alabama, during the depression, follows the Finch family: Scout (the daughter), Jem (her older brother), and Atticus (their father, a lawyer). The big event in the novel is the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Around this centerpiece flows ordinary life in a small Southern town, populated with a colorful cast of characters and punctuated by the adventures of the children. “To Kill a Mockingbird” tackles big themes, but they are shown through a child’s eyes as Scout relates the events and her reactions to them in the first person.
The audio version I chose to listen to is read by Sissy Spacek, who does an phenomenal job bringing Scout and her adventures to life. Spacek’s accent is just right, her pacing easy, her characters clear and well differentiated. No drive seemed long while I was listening to her wonderful rendering of Harper Lee’s classic in my car. Hearing the story read so well brought it alive for me in a way I sometimes have to struggle to achieve when I read such books for myself.
If you’ve never read To Kill a Mockingbird, or if you’d like to read it again, I’d highly recommend getting your hands on a copy of the audiobook read by Sissy Spacek. What a great way to experience a great book!