It took me a long time to get to this book. Bought it in 2001 and started reading it only at the start of March. Took me a long time to read through it as well since I was busy reading tons of materials for work. Today as I go through its last pages, I wished I didn't have to stop reading it.
The story is set in a sleepy town in Alabama and that's how it starts and progresses. Slow, meandering accounts of rural summers spent by the 9-year old narrator, Jean Louise Finch, or more aptly nicknamed Scout, with her older brother Jem and her "fiance" Dill. I felt at first that the book was just a series of vignettes but I eventually saw the strong, cohesive plot that ties all the charming stories together. But it's a slow, steady build to its climax, when their cool, calm, poker-faced father Atticus defended a negro in a rape case that rocked sleepy Maycomb. The ending, which is exciting, surprising, heart-melting, gasp-inducing and awe-inspiring, neatly brings together all the supposedly unrelated events and ends with what the book started with - how Jem got his arm badly broken. I have never fallen in love with a fictional family as I have with the Finches. Scout talks with the innocence of a kid, but narrates with the wisdom of an adult. Atticus, not a flashy character at all, endears you with his principles and his style of parenting totally devoid of any patronizing quality. The characters charm you, but the story makes you think. Today is about half a century from when the book was published and more than 70 years since the setting of this story, but the moral lessons and the views on race, real Christianity, equality, love are just as relevant today.
This book makes a quick climb into my list of favorites.