Tom Santopietro, an author well-known for his writing about American popular culture, delves into the heart of the beloved classic and shows readers why To Kill a Mockingbird matters more today than ever before.
The title is misleading. I expected this text to offer a complex and sustained argument about the merits of the novel itself. Instead, much of the book is given over to a biography of Nelle Harper Lee and an extremely detailed history of the making of the 1962 movie. Some light literary analysis is thrown in for good measure. Never does this book take chances or make a persuasive argument for why To Kill a Mockingbird matters to anyone but white people who inexplicably still do not understand the ills of racism, and seemingly need this book to show them the light ... Santopietro has certainly done his homework, and he applies the rigor of his knowledge admirably ... Most of Santopietro’s work is given over to that movie — so much so that I began to wonder if this book was intended to be a cultural history of the adaptation alone... but the author fails to explain how it supports his argument that To Kill a Mockingbird matters... On top of that, the book’s structure is strange. The groundwork for Why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Matters is astute, but the intellectual analyses are not, and the book suffers for it.
If you plan on reading Why To Kill a Mockingbird Matters hoping to engage in a deep discussion with the author regarding the themes and characters presented in the novel, you may be disappointed ... Only four of the 17 chapters are devoted to placing Mockingbird in its literary context and answering why the novel matters ... In the end, [Santopietro's book] is probably a book for acolytes of Harper Lee’s renowned novel, which is not a bad thing.
[Why To Kill a Mockingbird is] primarily a book of cinematic history, filigreed here and there with the borrowed significance of Mockingbird... But for readers who want to know about the film, it’s a success, absorbing and full of beguiling detail ... [ultimately, Santopietro unknots] the immense tangle of racial and personal and regional issues that Lee reflected and defined.