You might think our fourth KEM GEM, Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill A Mockingbird (TKAM), is too obvious to recommend, but you’d be surprised how many people haven’t read the Harper Lee classic. I’m ashamed to admit, I was one of the late bloomers. It wasn’t on my radar when I was a teen. Then, later, I’d assumed that the story was no longer relevant to my life.
Don’t make the same mistake. We’re highlighting TKAM so others don’t deprive themselves of this life-changing reading experience. Here’s the KEM GEM torch. Pass it on. Go to our KEM GEM recommendation page first, submit a comment, then come back to this home page post.
IT’S A LOVE STORY
This book–a love story of sorts, between the misunderstood and their defenders–so enthralled me, I immediately rented and devoured the movie. Then, for dessert, I watched every second of extra footage and commentary, feverishly taking notes in hopes that some word would stick in my brain and unleash the Harper Lee in me.
Sadly, no startling metamorphosis occurred, but Harper Lee gained a die-hard fan and admirer. Other writers may have exceptional stories to tell, but I can’t think of a more exceptional storyteller. One can see Lee’s influence in other written-for-adult, court room drama masterpieces; for instance, John Grisham’s A Time to Kill and Aaron Sorkin’s A Few Good Men. In fact, I’m certain Matthew McConaughey studied Peck’s Atticus before playing Jake Tyler Brigance in A Time to Kill, the movie.
If you’ve read the book, I highly recommend watching the movie as well. (But, always read the book first.) You’ll see why Gregory Peck’s performance gained him the honor of the American Film Institute’s #1 hero in 100 years. And you’ll marvel that Mary Badham (Miss Jean Louise Finch) had no acting experience prior to her starring performance.
Random facts about To Kill a Mockingbird
- In a 2006 survey of librarians, To Kill a Mockingbird ranked first in their list of books you should read before you die.
- TKAM is loosely autobiographical. Nelle Harper Lee fashioned Atticus after her own attorney father.
- Mr. Lee unsuccessfully defended a black father and son accused of a murder; rendering him unable to save them from execution by hanging.
- The book character, Dill, (Charles Baker Harris), was inspired by Harper Lee’s neighbor and best friend, Truman Capote (Truman
- Harper Lee served as research assistant for Truman Capote’s best-selling novel In Cold Blood.
- Scout Finch continues to rank as one of America’s favorite movie tomboys.
- Lee received support to write TKAM through the generosity and encouragement of bene-
factors, Michael and Joy Brown.
- The 1960′s novel, translated in 40 different languages, has over 30 million copies in circulation.
- Harper Lee loved the TKAM screenplay–a testament to her humility.
- Miss Lee once threw her manuscript out a window–proof that she was, in fact, human.
My favorite movie line: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.” ~ Reverend Sykes
My biggest surprise: the young Robert Duvall.
Please, join the conversation. Share your TKAM and other KEM GEM thoughts and insights with us in the COMMENTS section (in 1-150 words). We’ll post a new book recommendation on the 15th of every month, so come and visit often. We’re excited to become better writers with you! If you’re new to KEM GEMS, learn more about our children’s book recommendation project via the KEM GEM tab.
- January - Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
- February - Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park
- March – Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee
- April – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
ON DECK (Posted on the 15th)
- May – Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
- June – Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass
- July – Hen Had Her Ham by Meish Goldish
If you enjoyed this morning’s lunar eclipse, you will love our June KEM GEM.