Alexandru Stoica Stoica de Rhode Island, USA
I really liked this book. The voice, the story, the way Franklin unfolds the telling of it... all wonderful.
A great World War II story
You begin thinking that you're just reading To Kill a Mockingbird, but soon you have an altogether different sensation. Harper Lee has set you down on a Southern porch, and she's telling you a long story, one that you're happy to sit through. Even though it falls under the category of fiction, the qualifiers “autobiographical” and “historical” beg to be included in the book's description. The novel's power comes through this realism: it is very easy to believe that this actually happened, and in a small town not too far away. Maybe it happened often in small towns all over the South. Lee takes the unexceptional and makes it important and interesting by involving the reader deeply in the lives of her characters. The main character Scout is given two voices: a thoughtful and mature woman, and a rambunctious, curious child. This avoids both the detachment of pure adult recollection and the forcedness of the “child wise beyond her years” that quickly sheds believability. Thus, when Scout confronts Mr. Cunningham and the drunken mob, we are not invited to “remember the naivete of youth”, but instead, we see and hear a naïve little girl. The character of Atticus, however, is too important to be simply “Daddy”, and the older, reflective voice tells us what the nine year old never saw until much later. The pacing, slow but never ponderous, ensures that these transitions are not jarring. Often, Lee's tangents are worth more than some books. The teacher and education from up North are delightfully skewered, and the whole schooling subplot could serve as an apologetic for private or home education. Jem's painful interactions with Mrs. Dubose add to the book's depth, helping to make it more than a story about racism. Atticus' struggles as a parent and the simultaneous blessing and curse of Aunt Alexandra add still another layer. Jem and Scout's relationship is delightful and true to life: they fight and grow up at different rates, but they have a deep and abiding love for each other captured by their constant and unashamed play together, as well as little things like Jem's chest hair. Dill impacts them each differently: Scout is excluded from skinny-dipping, Jem from kissing, but the addition to the family never really threatens their relationship with each other. This restraint stands out: the cheap drama of brother-sister or brother-sister-friend tensions are turned down time and again as Lee understands that not all siblings fail to get along. The story is not dark, but can hardly be described as cheerful. The apprehension the children feel around the Radley house creeps throughout the whole book, and a cloud passes over some spots that otherwise would be quite sunny. Scout dressing up as a ham is hilarious taken on its own; in context, it seems slightly macabre. Is she really going to be eaten? Likewise, Dolphus Raymond, drinking Coke out of a brown-bagged Coke bottle, while highly comic, doesn't quite get to the level of relief. Justice is being killed in the courtroom across the street, and laughing doesn't feel right. Realism suffers somewhat under the sheer number of characters: Scout, Jem and Dill live and move, and the Radleys are necessarily mysterious, but other major figures still have their shelf tags on. Atticus' only weakness is that he cannot be both father and mother. A flaw would not have ultimately affected his status; the voice of the mature Scout could easily have communicated her love and respect for him in a less hagiographical way. Boo put a pair of scissors in his own father's leg, and is still a hero by the end. Ironically, Atticus' spotlessness makes him the only character whose shoes the reader can't put on for a while. Lee does an excellent job giving depth to more central characters and even to several minor ones: the rude bigot Mrs. Dubose is one of Atticus' heroes, and the racist Underwood respects Atticus, and will protect his friend even though he is defending a black man. But Tom Robinson and Bob Ewell are simply cardboard opposites. Tom's boy scout nature and kind-heartedness make him hard to take seriously – the jury wouldn't really expect to find such a goody two-shoes even among white folk. The stereotype of the inbred white trash drunk is not a fiction, but Ewell's black hat is big enough to slide down over his shoulders. It is Lee's manifest love for the South that enables her to critique it effectively. In opposing the racism and backwardness present in the culture, she cannot offend the honest Southerner. The South contains its share of both Atticuses and Ewells, and has not been unfairly represented. It is not always clear why Boo, Scout, Tom, and the other mockingbirds are in danger, or why on Atticus' principles everyone is not a mockingbird at some level. Atticus even tries to get in Hitler's skin for a little while. Sometimes Atticus's explanations of man's goodness are more trite than his life and actions, and makes one wish that the message was as deep as the writing was beautiful. There is some overacheiving going on: Atticus thinks that men are basically good, children are naturally innocent (thus Aunt Alexandra's overdone but still pertinent criticisms of his parenting of Scout), and that everybody can become sympathetic if you walk in their skin for a while. But under the careful pen of Lee, ideals that would make for some cheesy bumper stickers are elevated to significance by her craft. Boiling down the message of the book and extracting the moral principles would be like stripping the flesh from the bones, and then complaining about how thin the man was. Trite things are nonetheless true, and the beauty and insights that emerge from Lee's treatment of some basic issues are like a bum given a suit and a haircut who eventually earns the right to wear them. Lee effectively tells a significant and moving story, and any time spent on her porch is time well spent.
At least I will be reading it as soon as I get the book! I entered one of those goodreads give aways for free copies of books and I won a copy (it's the second time I have won)! Will write a review once I get the book and read it. Have to admit that I just couldn't finish it. It just wasn't that compelling for me--especially as a motivational self-help kind of book. The anecdotal pieces that the author threw in just felt like name dropping. The message didn't seem clear and I'm not really sure what her point was. Wouldn't really recommend it as something that would inspire you or direct you on how to make your work situation better really. I've read better.
Podem ler a opinião completa no blog Floresta de Livros. A disturbing yet funny story. Beautiful atwork, great characters and some mistery. Look forward to reading more.