A number of years ago while I was a member of a real-world book group, one of the other members objected to us reading To Kill A Mockingbird because she said it was YA. I got all huffy. The book, I believed, was an adult book with a child main character, which is a totally different thing. I argued that it was only perceived as YA because it's taught in high schools so often. (Though, personally, I don't know anyone who has studied it, including myself.)
Well, in a New Yorker article on Mockingbird A Portrait of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields, To Kill A Mockingbird's author is quoted as having said, "It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book."
This, of course, gets back once again to how books are classified and by whom. I've talked about it here before. I won't bore you with it.
Wait. Yes, I will. Let's think about this for just a moment--If To Kill A Mockingbird were to be written and accepted for publication today, would it be published as an adult book? Or would it be YA? I'm assuming the rape would bump it up out of the children's category.
By the way, Thomas Mallon, who wrote the New Yorker article, has some less than complimentary things to say about To Kill A Mockingbird, itself. If I had all the time in the world, I might reread the book (again) with his criticism in mind. But I don't, so I'll just have to wonder.
June 2 update: The quote attributed above to Harper Lee is incorrect. Flannery O'Connor said of To Kill A Mockingbird, "It’s interesting that all the folks that are buying it don’t know they’re reading a child’s book." See my June 2nd post.