It would have been very easy to write a novel about a rape trial involving a black man and a white woman, set in the deep, deeply racist South and seen through the eyes of a young girl, that wallowed in too-simple choices and made-for-TV-movie sentiment. Thankfully that novel is not To Kill a Mockingbird. The young girl is the curious, clear-eyed Scout, and her father, who defends the accused, is the immortal Atticus Finch, a pillar of weary small-town righteousness. What follows is neither simple nor sentimental, but is instead a classic of moral complexity and an endlessly renewable fund of wisdom about the nature of human decency.
Next To the Lighthouse