Published by Macmillan on May 20th 2014
Genres: Adolescence, Books & Libraries, Friendship, Humorous Stories, Social Issues, Young Adult
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to "destroying the mockingbird." Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books.
This is a sweet middle grade level coming of age story. I was drawn into it by the fact that I do adore Harper Lee’s classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird. What I really liked about this novel was that it is very well written and it manages to bring middle grade literature into 2014. The kids start their “I kill the Mockingbird” campaign online. They set up Twitter, Facebook, AND Instagram (Instagram!!) accounts to promote their little conspiracy. There’s even a passage that offers some good advice for all bloggers. When describing how they gave life and momentum to their movement (enough to attract Wil Wheaton!) Lucy reflects:
“First, we communicate everyday with anybody and everybody [that] stops by one of the Mockingbird sites. We also send notes to folks who haven’t visited in awhile. Second, we spend as much time as possible in various online book discussion groups where we comment often and include links back to our own pages. Finally, we start flame wars with ourselves. Basically, we use fake accounts to say really stupid things on our Twitter feeds and Facebook comments. Because so many smart people are our friends and followers now, dozens of them immediately jump in to correct misinformation and come to our defense. Getting a really good flame war started can bring in a hundred new fans. […] Nearly a thousand angry people joined that conversation. More than half of them stayed when the shouting was done.”
It’s reminiscent of ‘The Bachelor’ producer who started a faux-feud with a non-existent woman on an airplane via Twitter last Thanksgiving, isn’t it?
This book is well written and enjoyable. It’s a great coming-of-age story. Ultimately it’s about growing up in that last summer before high school. That being said, the ‘romance’ element of this book seemed both contrived and unnecessary. Lucy’s mother beating cancer also seemed to be a little out of the action, but it’s useful as a method for demonstrating the fragility and importance of life. There is a great mother/daughter conversation that occurs in the graveyard.
My only other qualm with this book is extremely minor. Dickens on an eighth grade reading list? In 2014? No way.
Highly recommended for middle grade readers and up. Also, does not contain spoilers for To Kill a Mockingbird.