July-August ’15 Update – Ashley

Yep, I’m combining July and August…  I have been so slack!  Well, to be fair, I’ve been anything but slack in most other areas of my life over the summer, but taking care of all those things meant that I neglected my reading!  Well, here’s what I’ve got and I will do my best to catch up.

* To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (reread) – I chose to read this book over the summer, because, well… were you awake during Summer 2015?  Harper Lee and Mockingbird were all over the news, thanks to the long-awaited release of her follow-up novel, Go Set a Watchman (actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird, ironically).  There was all kinds of commotion and uproar in the court of public opinion upon discovery that Atticus Finch (a main character from Mockingbird) is revealed as a racist in Watchman.  Let it be known, Go Set a Watchman is officially on my must-read list.   Until I read it, I won’t comment on the controversy.  🙂

tokillamockingbirdOn the off-chance you haven’t already read To Kill a Mockingbird, let me give you a run-down.  It tells of young Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, a young girl who, along with her brother Jem, must navigate childhood in 1930’s Maycomb, Alabama.  This is made increasingly more difficult as her father, Atticus Finch, is appointed to take on the defense of a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a young white woman in town.  The plot is beautiful, stirring, and thought-provoking.  It moves quickly, spanning three years total, but never feels labored or lacking.  The characters are complicated and rich, starring in subplots that are equally as compelling as the primary storyline.

My Take: Without a doubt, one of the best books of all time and definitely worthy of its spot on this list.  It is beautifully written and provides unlimited opportunities for discussion and deep thinking.  Additionally, I think the message remains as important today as it was when the book won the Pulitzer in 1961.  What is really special, for me, about this novel is that we are seeing everything through Scout’s perspective.  I think it’s inspiring  to read about something as heavy as racism from a child’s eyes.  It serves as a reminder that prejudice isn’t something that we are born with – it’s something that is (or is not) instilled in us by those with whom we surround ourselves.

* From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (new read)
– I’m going to be honest with you… if you promise not to laugh.  I have always gotten this book confused with Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  I guess it’s the “Mrs.” in both titles?!?!  Regardless, I picked up this book thinking it was going to feature rodents.  Imagine mymixed-up-files surprise when it wound up doing nothing of the sort!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tells the story of Claudia Kincaid and her younger brother Jamie, as they embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that begins with running away from home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Once there, their journey takes a different turn as they discover a mystery in need of solving.  Along the way, their lives become entwined with the narrator, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who becomes an important piece to their puzzle.  What entails is really a journey of self-discovery.

My Take: What a fun little book!  By all means, an easy read, yet simultaneously profound in its simplicity.  The message within is one you have to marinate on, one that resonates after spending some time reflecting on the book.  How nice to read a book with a message that doesn’t slap you in the face.  As to whether or not this is one of the 100 Best YA Novels?  Jury’s still out…  I have a few more books to read first!  🙂  It’s a good book, but I’m not yet convinced it’s one of the best of all-time.