My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I was interested in the book when it first came out late last summer. With the recent hubbub about the publication of Harper Lee’s rejected manuscript slated for publication this summer, I remembered Ms. Mills’ book – primarily because I now live in Madison WI where Ms. Mills grew up. Last week, I ordered her book from the library, anticipating a long wait. Surprisingly, it came swiftly – and had apparently never been read.
In an early chapter, Ms. Mills accuses Mayor Daly of exiting sentences he never entered. I was amused by this statement, and, as I continued reading, found it’s to be a self-describing mechanism for the author’s own writing – at the paragraph level. I also became increasing irritated with the non-movement in her story and having to parse the disjointed sentences and the appearances of non-referent characters.
Concerned that it was just me who found the book boring and simultaneously raising a profound dislike for Harper Lee, I went in search of reviews for the book.
The most helpful, and most vitriolic, came from the UK’s Telegraph. The Telegraph’s reviewer spoke what I was feeling.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a novel that speaks in language the soul hears. Americans of a certain age resonate with this book in the same way that we remember a dead parent. As a result, we tend to value anything about this book in the golden light of nostalgia. From that perspective, one can excuse the American reviewers’ praise for The Mockingbird Next Door.
Because the Telegraph’s review was not blinded by the historical heritage of Ms. Lee’s novel, the non-American reviewer brought into the conversation an actual critical review of Ms. Mills’ own writing and content.