I Kill the Mockingbird
By Paul Acampora
Roaring Brook Press, 2014. 166 pages. Young Adult
The shenanigans really begin with the sudden, untimely death of Mr. Nowak, everyone's favorite eighth grade English teacher. When best friends Lucy, Elena, and Michael vow to find a way to memorialize Mr. Nowak over their final summer before high school, they decide to find a way to get everyone reading his favorite book: Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Their plan? To make all the copies of the classic novel disappear from local libraries and bookstores through "creative" reshelving, and publicizing their efforts through a social media and website presence known as IKilltheMockingbird. "It's not stealing," Lucy insists. "It's shrinkage."
Their problem? The campaign quickly spirals out of control, and copies of To Kill a Mockingbird begin to disappear from bookshops and libraries all over the United States. Now the friends must work together to stop the "literary terrorism" they've started, before their plan backfires spectacularly and nobody reads the novel at all.
I Kill the Mockingbird is a charming little novel! Lucy's voice is active, piquant, and believably fourteen. She and her friends are round, dynamic characters who are well-fleshed but not overdrawn; and supported by a cast of secondary characters who are almost as much fun as the main ones. There are a lot of fine emotional nuances, particularly scenes between Lucy and her parents (her mother is a recent cancer survivor), and the moments between Lucy and Michael (who are starting to develop romantic feelings toward one another). The novel feels like a love letter to the enjoyment of great literature, and I can't say I didn't giggle over a few of the social media culture references. Quick, clean, and fun.