This week Rangeley Wallace shares her favourite books as part of her Things are Going to Slide tour.
Hello Rangeley, welcome to Inheritance Books. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama by parents who believed that reading was essential to a good education and a good education was critical to success in life. During summer vacations, my sister and I were required to read a book every week or two and write a book report for our parents. We went to the library almost every week where we checked out a box full of books, and, once a month, when my grandparents were visiting, we went to the bookstore downtown and bought a book. I still remember the excitement of picking out a book that I could not only read, but keep on the little bookshelf in my room and re-read as often as I liked.
Both of the books I will discuss today were purchased during those monthly bookstore trips, the first, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the second, A Wrinkle in Time.
Which book did you inherit from the generation above? Why is it special?
To Kill A Mockingbird was one of the most important books I read when I was a young girl. It resonated with me for many reasons. First, it was written by Harper Lee, a fellow Alabamian and a woman writer at a time when none of the women I knew worked outside the home. Second, I identified with the protagonist, Scout, herself a young girl. I remember casting directors coming to Birmingham trying to find the girl who would play Scout in the movie version of the book. My sister Holly and I both read for the part. Although she would have been perfect, neither of us was chosen for the role.
Third, the book addressed issues of racial inequality, the most important issue in the South during my childhood. Although my parents were supporters of equal rights, most people in Birmingham, Alabama were not. The Mayor, Bull Connor, directed fire hoses and police attack dogs against peaceful black demonstrators, including children. Around the same time, members of the Ku Klux Klan planted sticks of dynamite outside the basement of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. The dynamite exploded, killing four young girls. Seeing girls who were just like me, except for the color of their skin, attacked and even killed was heartbreaking; I couldn’t make any sense of the world around me. Why were people so mean and hateful? So evil? What could one person do to make a difference?
To Kill A Mockingbird, set in a fictional Alabama town, answered my questions. In the book, attorney Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, takes on the defense of a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. No matter what the prejudiced townsfolk said or did, Atticus courageously worked to exonerate his client. In Atticus, I (and many others) found an inspirational moral hero.
Which book would you leave to generations below? Why?
The book I would leave to the generation below is A Wrinkle in Time. I read it several times as a child and many years later enjoyed reading my worn copy of the book aloud to my four children as soon as they were old enough to appreciate it.
I love this book for several reasons. First, A Wrinkle in Time was written by a woman author. Second, she used scientific concepts (such as tesseract) to craft a fascinating story line. Around the time I read the book I devoted hours a week to the chemistry set I’d gotten for Easter, fancying myself something of a scientist!
Third, the book deals with some of the same themes as To Kill a Mockingbird: the negative aspects of social conformity, the struggle of individuals to make the world a better place, the never ending fight of good against evil.
Finally, I identified with the female protagonist, thirteen year old Meg, who was an awkward, unpopular and defensive adolescent, as I felt I was. And, we shared a surname! During the book, Meg reluctantly finds the strength to fight against the evil in the world. I hoped that I too would be up to the challenge in a similar situation.
I haven’t read either of those books, but reading Noughts and Crosses (by Malorie Blackman) had a similar effect on me.
Thanks for sharing your books with us, Rangeley. I hope the tour goes very well for you.