At the age of 14, I read To Kill A Mockingbird – on my own – before the school term began. We got our school book-list for the year and after purchase, science and maths and all others got cast aside but literature books were brought to my bedside. Why? I knoweth not.
To me, a sheltered schoolgirl from a tiny island republic called Singapore, this story happened somewhere in the big country called USA and the hero was a lawyer called Atticus Finch. Yes, I cried for Tom Robinson while reading in bed, and later our whole class cried for him too. (Can you imagine 38 girls with red eyes and their handkerchiefs greeting another teacher for another subject? Poor teacher…)
From this book and later during lessons with our teacher’s foreword to each chapter I actually learned quite a lot about American history, their lifestyles, slavery and they even once had the North & the South. So they had more than just cowboys! It was simply eye-opening and triggered my interest in other authors like Mark Twain & Ernest Hemingway.