Sara Miller Llana in The Christian Science Monitor:
Last fall it was voted America’s best-loved book. This winter it made it to Broadway, grossing more at the box office in its first full week than any other play in history. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” became a classic the moment it was published in 1960 – a tale of racial injustice set in Depression-era Alabama told through the eyes of 6-year-old Scout. It garnered the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and its movie adaptation won three Oscars in 1963. That it has smashed theater records and risen to the top of a PBS nationwide popularity poll of American literature nearly 60 years later speaks to the lasting power of the narrative of a little girl making sense of racism and hypocrisy around her, as her father Atticus Finch defends Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.
But its endurance is not just its clear-eyed depiction of a moment in time in the American South. It is the book’s evolution itself, from a groundbreaking text in its time to one today that raises complex questions about how the story is told – who tells it and, notably for some, who doesn’t. As “To Kill a Mockingbird” gets adapted for the stage, giving more voice to the black characters that were secondary or silent in the original novel, and gets re-examined in classrooms across North America, some are asking if a time comes when a book should be retired despite the impression it made on generations of students and the nostalgia many still feel about the work. That discussion gives it even more staying power.