Ad Astra Per Aspera: A Tribute to Harper Lee
I wrote this piece on February 2016 as a tribute to Harper Lee who passed away back then. Still relevant today.
I never liked writing book reviews. Unlike other kids I never started out by reading things voluntarily, so I don’t feel like I have built a credibility of reviewing a book, nay, any form of literature. I remember adding Harry Potter books that I have read in my Goodreads profile, where I rated two books in that series with three stars. Someone (who’s a diehard HP fan) saw it, and she blasted me with “HOW DARE YOU RATE A HARRY POTTER BOOK WITH ONLY THREE STARS”.
See? Not worthy. And here I am, about to blurt out a piece of my mind on this literary mermaid that, since I don’t know how to swim, you’d probably drown me for not giving it enough justice.
I consider myself fortunate for reading Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird without a professor telling me to do so with an additional requirement of writing a book review. I have problems dealing with people telling me what to do, and forcing me to do something that I did not grow up doing (in this case, reading) is just unbearable to me.
But while I say that I was fortunate to read this book without fear of failing a subject in school I would say that I am grateful of giving this piece a chance. I realised how I have been wasting my time dealing with candies, and sodas, and jellies, asking and sending lives and tickets. It was supposed to be my escape from reality. But sadly, the reality I am in right now cannot simply be escaped from by just switching tiles to match colours, or to get rid of all the jellies. I need something to refuel the spirit in me, for I am afraid of what would happen to me once I ran out of it.
Then I saw this book at Google Play Store and bought it.
I already told you that I am not an avid reader. In this generation of Twitter and Facebook and 9gag, I am embarrassed to declare right now that my attention span is now comparable to that of a toddler. It’s difficult for me to find a book that would pique my interest; I got used to movies showing me details of a certain scenery, rather than have my brain generate it for myself. I needed a motivation. I bought this book because I want to tell myself how much money I would have put to waste if I didn’t finish this one. Even if it’s relatively cheap (almost a month’s worth of Spotify Premium membership) I need to tell my brain that I am still shelling out money, so that answers your silent comment that might sound a little bit like “silly, stupid, idiotic Frederick for not downloading the book illegally instead”.
I started reading; I saw the number of pages in my smartphone. It’s just 176 pages I thought, I can do this. It wasn’t a story of a boy wizard killing the dark lord of the Sith; it doesn’t have the suspense or the mystery that you’d see in modern novels. I felt nothing but warmth as I took a peek at a kid’s point of view of her neighbourhood during the time when her country was still recovering from a painful war for racial liberty.
How Jean Louise have seen the world differently, clad with so much innocence. How her brother Jem’s view evolved as soon as he transformed from a boy to a man. How Atticus fought a battle not because he needs to, but because he wants to; because he feels it’s the right thing to do.
How it would be better to put yourself in other people's shoes in order to understand their perspective of things.
I cried when Atticus received so much gift from people who felt grateful when he stood up for them, even after losing that battle. My emotional self was savagely beaten already and this scene just shattered me into pieces. I never shed a tear while reading a book before. The last time I cried this much was when I saw Remi lost her dogs Capi, Zerbino and Dolce (damn those dogs were so adorable why do they have to die?! WHY?!) #90sKidsCanRelate
It was Valentine’s Day and the skies were gloomy; I thought what a perfect way to describe my take on the occasion. That was the time when I finished reading this book and I suddenly forgot what I was sad about in real life. Somehow the emotions that crept up on me while engulfed on this book cancelled out everything that I was feeling in my real world. I felt nothing but just pure happiness. And for that, I am grateful. I was in a puddle of mud, and now I find myself up with the stars. Ad Astra Per Aspera.
This book is truly one of those that you have to read before you die.
Harper Lee, the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird” passed away today. Thank you, Miss Lee for this wonderful story. This changed my perceptions in life, and I owe it to your Jean Louise and Atticus Finch. May you rest in peace.