Sissy Spacek narrated the audiobook version of To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and I think it’s the most beautiful book I’ve ever listened to. This was my first book for Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge, and it was a powerful experience!
It’s a beautifully-told story about growing up, takes place in Alabama during the Great Depression, gives a warm and intimate view of life in a small town (then and now), and deals with the very painful issues of racism and poverty. But most of all, it’s a story about love.
The story is told through the eyes of “Scout” (Jean Louise Finch), so you feel as though you are part of the family as she and her brother, Jem, grow and experience life with their father, Atticus, in Maycomb, Alabama. I fell in love with Atticus Finch when I first read this book, and later saw the film starring Gregory Peck, many years ago. I was captured by his intelligence and integrity, his compassion and humanity, and his complete and unconditional love for his children. He reminded me of my own father in many ways, and he must have helped set a standard for the husband I would meet and marry 38 years ago, because he, too, shares many of those same quiet qualities.
This audiobook performance by Sissy Spacek is outstanding. According to Maggie, it’s been nominated for a Quill Award, and rightly so! For all those students that are required to read this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, I would highly recommend having the book in hand, but also listening to this incredible performance/reading at the same time. Hearing that beautiful language spoken by such a talented performer deepens the cultural experience of the book, and I think would help young people better understand the complexities of the story.
Maggie started this Southern Reading Challenge with this goal in mind:
I believe one of the major reasons we have a whole genre named after our region is because “sense of place” or the setting, becomes a character in most Southern books. I want to bring this to your challenge experience!
To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful way to experience this strong sense of place, and was a perfect choice for the beginning of this reading challenge for me.