Harper Lee wrote only one book, but the minute it was published it was destined to be a classic.
2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the Oscar nominated 1962 film starring Gregory Peck. The film won three awards, one for Peck, one for best adapted screenplay and a third for art/set direction.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless story of racial divide, coming-of-age and family relationships. Atticus Finch is a lawyer and the single father of Jeremy ("Jem") and Jean Louise ("Scout") Finch in a small Alabama town. Atticus, as he is called by his children, is defending African American Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping a white woman, who's father is bent on vengeance. Times being what they were in 1930s South, Tom's fate is sealed despite his innocence. He is shot by law enforcement as he tries to escape.
Through all this, the Finch children try to make sense of a world that judges people based on skin color. This is an especially poignant lesson for Jem, as we see him begin to mature from a child to a young man. On the other hand, Scout's youthful innocence gives even the adults around her a different perspective on human nature and the rights of mankind.
Other characters in the book add to the success of the story: Bob Ewell, father of the white woman at the center of the trial, who tries to harm the Finch children; Boo Radley, the reclusive neighbor who comes to their aid; and Calpurnia, maid for the Finch family, among many others.
I love the book so much I've read it twice (so far!), and I try to catch the movie whenever it's on. It's a terrific balance of tragedy and hope perfect for adults and high school students alike.