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.
Yes, it’s true I have been misled. When I first picked up a copy of I Kill The Mockingbird at Barnes & Noble, I found it shelved inside the Young Adult section, saw a positive review by Gary D. Schmidt, and read the first line and decided I needed it. I can be pretty impulsive, so I ended up getting the book and discovered the novel wasn’t a YA novel at all. It is, in fact, a middle grade novel. Which is not a bad thing, of course. I love middle grade novels. I adore them. I write middle grade stories in my free time, so it definitely doesn’t have to do with that. It was the fact that because it was middle grade, the novel was played much safer than it should have been, considering it was revolving around eighth graders spending their last summer before high school.
Now, these may just be insanely mature eighth graders, but I just found the characters to not be drawn well enough. They had some really fantastic features, but the novel was too short and I thought that was a loss because there was so much more that could have be delved into. Aside from that fact, there is nothing wrong with writing a safe novel. Although it felt like I was reading through the perspective of a sixth grader instead of an eighth grader, this is a novel you definitely want to hand down to younger readers, especially ones leaving elementary school and entering middle school or junior high. This novel is about the love for another novel. And people, too, of course. Overall, it is a complete dedication to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Maybe because I adore To Kill A Mockingbird I had no problem with this premise, but if you’re not into that book, then this novel probably isn’t for you. Which makes it all a bit mixed up since I Kill The Mockingbird is targeted at a young adult audience but it seemed like the primary demographic of Acampora’s novel may not have had a chance to read Harper Lee’s classic in the first place. This novel feels mainly targeted at a younger audience, although it deals with older characters. It’s sort of like a Disney animated movie, I guess, when you put it into those terms. So I’m not exactly sure how successful it will be for its primary readers, but I do appreciate its effort.
Overall, Paul Acampora’s novel is full of wit, humor, and maturity. Just because it was targeted at a younger audience doesn’t mean it’s not mature. It is. It just means Acampora handled the material well–even if most of it was on the surface. Despite its small flaws, I Kill The Mockingbird answers the question of why we read and why we may start a revolution because of it. Most of all, it might make you want to start your own literary revolution. The best kind of revolutions. So if anyone has any of those thoughts in mind, give me a shout-out. I’m all for some good literary conspiracies.