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Day 4: a book that made me cry

Referring back to this list.

A book that made me cry. Hmm, should I really disclose something this private? Well, okey then. The first story to make my eyes tear up was probably Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, however, the one that comes to mind is actually:

To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), Harper Lee

I read this almost two years ago, during lonely hours when I was working down in Gothenburg (south-western Sweden) for five weeks. I think I purchased it because I knew that the students in my class who read English Higher Level read it, so I knew it was a world literature classic. However, I did not know it was such a good novel with such as beautiful message and storyline to it.

As you probably know (for all I know, at least, most angophile countries have this novel as standard high school literature) it is a story set in a small town in the American South in the early, or even mid-, 20th century, where an alleged rape of a white woman by a black man has profound effects and brings out the very best, and worst, from the villagers. The story has become a legendary film, starring, inter alia, Gregory Peck as the black man’s lawyer and the  father of the main character, Scout. Scout, as a boyish and confident young girl, is guided through the ethical, moral and sometimes philosophical questions that arise in an understandable way by her father. It was, to me, the father’s lectures to his daughter, his speeches in front of the jury, and his constant moral-driven character that made me so emotional. This was in the most recent shock after the first racist party in Swedish modern history was elected to parliament, so I was extra tense because of the at the time very present and very newly discovered racism in Sweden and tears came flowing several times as I read.

I could gather a long list of quotes from this novel, and perhaps I did at least underline important sentences in the pocket, but I cannot seem to find it at the moment, sorry for that. But trust me, it is a charming novel and although the message is evident Lee never makes To Kill a Mockingbird into a lecture, which was very important. I put down the book, having sharpened my view on people’s prejudices and how to ‘unjustify’ them. It reminds us of moral lessons that must never be forgot.

This novel was one of the first to be read by me after high school, and hence I consider it perhaps as part of my literary adulthood – a great link between learning how to read classics and suddenly loving to read them.

***

Close calls:

Of Men and Mice – the lovely story of George and Lenny, the tough worker and his mentally handicapped friend, who travel the West in search for ranch work during the Great Depression. A brilliant albeit tragic piece of writing from Steinbeck, in which humour and tragedy intertwine to create a very emotional read.

The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) – once again to be shown in theatres (winter of 2012), the tragic love story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan will be told through the eyes of Nick Carraway. A lovely story, but never obvious, that not only is one of the best love stories since Romeo and Juliet, but which also depicts the Roaring Twenties and contrasts poverty and wealth, hope and hopelessness, life and death, and loneliness and true love. I actually wrote my English Final Exam on this novel, and brought up the contrasts in the novel. Now afterwards, I think I could have included that fact that without the tensions created by all the different contrasts that Fitzgerald uses, the novel would not have been as emotionally loaded as it is.

Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) – I have begun shaping my African nisch with Adichie’s brilliantly epic novel on the Biafran War, where we follow a wealthy family’s fate from the early sixties until the end of the war, 1970. A war story that is not just a war story, but which also bears a strong emotional potential – perhaps unavoidable if you write about such a tragedy as the Biafran War.

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