Monday, March 9, 2015

Mockalong: Thoughts on Part One

As the Mockalong enters its second week, I found myself finishing up Part One of To Kill a Mockingbird. which my Kindle tells me is 40% done. I've been reading quietly the last couple of days, as I haven't had many thoughts about the novel to tweet. Yet as I read I find myself trying to articulate some coherent thoughts about the book so I'm prepared if and when people ask me how my Mockalong reading is going. Minor spoilers about Part One follow. If you haven't read the book, proceed at your own risk. Better yet, buy a copy from Amazon (Kindle version--only $3.99!) and read with me!

1. Overall, I don't have a lot of opinions yet.
I don't love it. I don't hate it. I wouldn't say I'm underwhelmed, as I'm still not sure I have a sense of what the book is or what it's trying to be. It's fine, but it seems quite ordinary to me so far. It has some nice moments, but as I finished Part One, the two loudest thoughts I had were: 1. I'm 40% done already? and 2. That's it?

2. It's a fast read.
I am surprised how quickly I'm reading it. I'm relieved it doesn't feature Southern phonetic spelling, a device that slows me down when reading. As Scout, the narrator, is a child, much of the language is realistically simple, even for a precociously smart child like Scout.

3. Atticus screams moral fiction.
Overall, I like the character of Atticus so far, but he veers too far toward the moral voice of the story for me right now. There have been inklings of secrets, and I hope those come out soon, as he is clearly the character who can do no wrong now. Admittedly, the story is told from his daughter's point of view, and it makes some sense that at her age her only living parent can do no wrong. It's just a little boring to have such an interesting one-dimensional character.

4. It's about lessons, not language or story.
I'm all for fiction imparting lessons, but I typically prefer for it it come out of a story rather than instead of a story. I hope Part Two brings more action. There are hints of Scout's future, as she has made a few comments about not realizing things until several years later. I'm curious how much time we'll see pass in Part Two. It's also been interesting to see which passages other Kindle readers have highlighted. All are clearly moral and life lessons. I haven't read a sentence yet that made me marvel at its language or structure, which is something I expect from a Pulitzer Prize winner. There's foreshadowing from the novel's first sentences, and I'm ready for the story to get to point at which Lee teases us from its beginning.

5. I hope something happens.
To look back on Part One and realize 40% of the book is over, not much has actually happened. There's been character development and backstory, and I hope Lee has been laying a foundation for Part Two, but I don't have a sense of what's in store for me when I turn the next virtual page.

Now tell me: In Part One (please avoid spoilers from Part Two for this week!), what has surprised you most, either as a first-time reader or as you re-read?

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1 comment:

  1. I'm just starting and will probably only make one final post at the end of the month.

    Regarding lessons vs. story. There are some books that completely put me off because they're so heavy-handed with not only morals but symbolism, as if the authors are just reading over your shoulder going "See what I did there? How clever am I?". For me these include, for example The Scarlet Letter and The Great Gatsby. But not Mockingbird.

    I felt it the first time I've read it and I'm feeling it again now, but hopefully this time around I'll be able to articulate why that happens.


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