I've always loved literature. I've always enjoyed the magic of a good book. I remember reading my sister's literature books (I was two grades behind her) and enjoying them. So, of course, by the time I was supposed to be studying those books, I knew the stories and characters very well (a tendency to read books more than once).
I remember being especially struck by Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. There's a reason that book is studied in schools all over North America - it is a brilliantly-written book. And the themes that it explores are all subjects of every day life.
I think I've read that book more than ten times. Yes. I love it that much. Everything about the book speaks to me: from the title to the last full stop. Everything about that book is strategically written and perfectly placed.
I fell in love with Scout. I saw the world through her eyes and I grew as she did. I saw Gem grappling with adolescence. Dill trying to create a world that was more palatable than the one he lived in. And Atticus. Just trying to do right and protect his children. He'd seen better days. He was too old for children. But he did his best to be the father they needed, even if he often fell short of being the father they wanted.
And Aunt Alexandria?? I bought Scout's story and had no sympathy for her as she tried to make Scout into a 'lady'. I have no sympathy for people who try to make children into something far more unapalatably and well, much less innocent. And I suppose she was trying to teach Scout the ways of the world, to make it easier for her to adapt in 'society'. But there are some pains that a child will willingly endure in order to maintain that precious part of him/herself that is just that: him//her self.
The book's resolution was dramatic and moving. No happy endings. Well, not really. Just a quiet acceptance of life's unjust moments. A realisation that while "all's well that ends well", sometimes things do not "end well", and in these instances, we learn to be "well" anyway. We grab the lessons and keep on going.
Yes. We. These books would not have had any profound effect on me had I not placed myself right there. I was there the night Boo Radley helped Scout and Jem. I saw it so vividly in my minds eye, I had to have been there. There's no way I couldn't have been there.
And when Tom was wrongfully accused, sent to prison?? When Scout couldn't understand how, in the face of what she and Jem knew was brilliantly presented evidence, the court still decided to sentence Tom to prison, I felt her pain and confusion. I couldn't understand either. It just wasn't right.
How do you read a book and not get carried away with the author? And if you don't, is it still a good book?? Can a good book keep you solidly grounded in your reality, unattached to its characters, and still have a deep impact on you?
Reading To Kill A Mockingbird those ten times (if not more, I kid you not) has never been boring. I've not gotten tired of it. The story doesn't get stale. Each time I read it, I relive the conflicts. I feel the emotions. I get carried away again. It could be because I'm a literary romantic. It could be because I have a very vivid imagination. Or it could just be because To Kill A Mockingbird is a good book. A very good book.
I'm more inclined to think it's the latter.