During GCSEs, the year was split in half with one half (my half) studied John Steinbeck's (wonderful) Of Mice & Men, and the other did Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. This means that I've come to this novel a bit later than a lot of other people; and I think this impacted my general response to the novel.For the most part, I really liked it. For a start, Harper Lee's ability to bring to life a Southern town (Maycomb, Atlanta) to the point that the reader can really visualise the buildings and even feel the heat of the weather is remarkable. Tied to this is Lee's wonderful ability to bring to life all the supporting characters; all the weird and wonderful characters who live in Maycomb, including Miss Rachel the town gossip and Miss Maudie the eccentric opposite neighbour to the Finch's. A second aspect of the novel that I loved was the character of Scout, apparently based a little on the author herself, who was an innocent narrator but also a very 'real' and believable young girl. Part of the novel could be seen as her own growing; whilst she does remain mostly innocent and thus does not fully understand all the events, Scout moves to a form of understanding by the end of the novel and is a fascinatingly vibrant character. I also loved Lee's description of the relationship she had with Jem, her older brother.Of course, the novel's main message-that everyone is essentially the same-is one that is hugely important, especially in the sense that Lee published the novel in 1960, a time when the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum, but also when many people's attitudes still hadn't changed from the ones they held in the 1930s. It's also an important message for school children to learn, which is probably why the novel is hugely popular in schools. However, there were times when the novel felt like a Message Book, in that many times the message was repeated over and over and over again.In particular, Atticus Finch comes across the majority of the time as a character whose main purpose is to say that all people are the same, and (most) are generally good. In addition, it did occasionally feel as though I was reading a novel aimed at someone younger than me; the first part of the novel really dragged for me.Yet all in all, To Kill A Mockingbird is really good with a great young female protagonist and worth reading for the trial scenes alone.