When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill A Mockingbird. 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.”
Lucy and her two best friends are excited about the summer before their freshman year of high school. Their new 8th grade English teacher gives them a summer reading list and Lucy's favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is among the recommended. Unfortunately, her fellow classmates are not as thrilled as she is about reading it. With the help of her friends, they come up with a plan that blossoms into something bigger than they ever imagined. Soon their intentions get out of hand and as the demand increases for the popular book, it soon turns into an unexpected revolt.
This story has everyday modern teenagers using and learning about the power of social media. Lucy, Elena and Michael's anonymous campaign gets everyone talking about the book and wanting it more by making it unavailable. The plan was to re-shelve books at local bookstores and libraries while also making a website declaring the destruction of the book. Unfortunately, their crusade takes a bad turn and quickly explodes outside of their small town unknowingly realizing the impact the Internet can have. Of course they have serious damage control now and problem solving was a key to eventually fixing the monster they had created. Among all of this, each character seemed real with individual stories of their own. Lucy was coming to terms with her mom's Cancer, Elena lived with her Uncle above his bookstore because her parents died in a car crash and Michael was a baseball superstar discouraged because he is not using his skills to full potential. Lucy and Michael also have this attraction to each other that is uncertain. The three attend a Catholic school and there is a lot of religious speak throughout the book. The characters are definitely a rare breed for their young age, being such big book nerds and declaring what they do "for the love of books." It is refreshing though to find a clean, witty coming-of-age story. The chapters are short and flow easily for a quick read. For kids who have read To Kill a Mockingbird already, there are many references that they will connect to. There are so many other mentions of book titles and authors that I felt myself saying "oh yeah, I know about that." The kids do learn a big lesson and take ownership for their actions which I was happy to see.
I read that this book is recommended for grades 5-8. Towards the end, the kids are discussing what is in To Kill a Mockingbird and one reference is that "the story has rape, murder, lynching and rabies." In our school district To Kill a Mockingbird is the big freshman year reading book and that subject was a short topic of discussion before the kids read it. They should understand the content first so I'm not sure how this would be a good fit for a 5th to 6th grader. I feel it may be better suited for a mature reader instead. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 12-14.
Title: I Kill the Mockingbird
Author: Paul Acampora
Pub. Date: May 2014, Roaring Book Press
Genre: fiction, middle grade
Hardcover, 166 pgs.