(I nearly titled this Share the Bad Book Love. That would've been shameful, and I need more coffee.)
This post is part of Tahereh's call for Banned Books review, although I will apologise right away, because this is not a review – not a proper one anyway. I wish I could give one, but I have not read a banned book recently (or any other book, really) and this novel I last read six years ago, as a teenager.
I figured, though, that since I am a storyteller, I should blog about how I fell in love with this story.
Yep, I'm talking about To Kill A Mockingbird, from Harper Lee.
Despite this being an award-winning novel, and often taught in American schools (or so I hear), it is a bit of a miracle it ever reached me. I was 15, a teenager obsessed with fantasy novels, and I went to a French school, as is the norm in a French-speaking province. English classes rarely, as such, presented us with interesting piece of literature. It was hard enough to teach us a new language, they had to make sure they had our interest, and as such they'd often use books we already knew (namely Harry Potter... twice).
So, yes, I was lucky enough to get an extra-motivated English teacher, not yet discouraged by the lack of interest she received from her students. And she forced us all to read To Kill a Mockingbird, and made sure we did with small tests. As with 99% of school books, most of the class hated it right away.
Heck, even I had trouble at first. I had to get over the southern accent (thank god for dwarf-speak, which gave me a few tips as to what meant what), there were no fast-paced scenes like in my regular fantasy novels, and always thought Scout was being an arrogant know-it-all. Half this book is about kids playing games in summer, and my teenage self wasn't sure she cared.
I kept reading, though, and not just for class. I kept reading because of the mystery behind, and because when I start a novel, it takes a lot for me to put it down (says a lot about those I never finished...) I started to see the life lessons as I went on, to understand what it was about and what I had to learn. When my friends told me the novel sucked, I answered "Keep reading. There's a story in there, and it means something."
I finished the novel within a week of the handout. I remember telling my teacher I loved it, and I remember her smile (and her surprise. I bet most of her students don't go that fast). It's a bit hard for me to say why To Kill a Mockingbird became so special for me, but I know I've defended it against friends with a passion before, and I can remember the story better than most other novels.
There were a lot of barriers between To Kill a Mockingbird and me, but this novel breached all of them and touched me. I will never regret the hours spent with it in my hands (and will forever scold myself over the highlighter marks in my copy, when I still couldn't care).
This novel, like many others, deserve to be read by as many as possible. Censorship should have nothing to do with literature. When I think that others are trying to keep these stories away, to silence the authors that wrote them, I shiver.
Love your Banned Books. Cherish them. But even more importantly, Share Them.