This is one of the few books I've read twice. It was required reading in secondary(?) school and it left me cold, but it comes highly recommended by someone I knew very well.
I am amazed it's the same book. I am amazed it was ever assigned to children, given its sublety and subject matter. I have serious doubts I finished it the first time, because it is tedious and epilictic for much of the book.
Ms. Lee writes the way Atticus and Miss Maddie live, with quiet determination, a few epigrams and a general faith in the order of things. It's my belief she could have written 10 more books based on hundreds of one sentence characterizations and anecdotes, but like Atticus, she thought she'd said enough.
Episodic anecdotes, meant to reveal character, are really just boredom breakers in any small town, where people uncritically assume that everything will remain mostly the same as ever. Only a child narrator could make discovery of this continuity still seem like adventure, but, predictably, a young child won't have the desire or ability to really change it.
Where it could fit into the tradition of grotesque southern fiction is that a long litany of terrible events afflicts every neighbor, yet it's all treated as same ol same ol in the menagerie cafe. Scout will become ladylike eventually, the town will forget Tom, and Boo and his doings will disappear into old yarns and long porches.
Still, the court scenes and the ending nearly earned it that 5. So here's the question: does the way things turned out make Atticus look ridiculous?