Every time I read it/listen to it/watch the movie/etc. I notice some new thing and I love Lee's book that much more. Recently, I visited the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, Alabama to see the play (based, of course, on the book by Harper Lee and adapted by Christopher Sergel). With few exceptions, the players embodied their characters very well. While the play is by no means a substitution for the book itself, it is a great supplement to gathering a more complete understanding of the story.
As a librarian my philosophy is that there is a book for everyone. People have different tastes, needs, attention spans, and preferences, and it is because of such diversity that so many options exist in reading material. This is a pretty bold statement, but I feel very strongly that there is exactly one novel that carries a message from which all readers (circa age 14 and up) can benefit, and that book is To Kill a Mockingbird.
On June 12, the Alabama Booksmith, a
Shields’s book did not disappoint. There is so much information packed into its 285 pages and additional 34 pages of carefully documented footnotes that it would require multiple readings to truly digest. While Shields is clear that he has never able to get any direct information from Harper Lee herself, he does a fabulous job of painting a picture of her life thus far while respecting the clear boundaries set by Miss Lee and her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Here is a condensed list of the surprises contained within Mockingbird:
-She actually goes by Nelle Lee.
-She was a member of a sorority (Chi Omega) during her 2 years at the
-Her mother suffered mentally from a condition not disclosed.
-Her father, A.C. Lee was indeed the model for Atticus Finch. However, A.C. was very hesitant to join the ranks in the fight for social equity. As a matter of fact, Reverend Ray Whatley, minister of the
It helps to know that eventually, A.C. did in fact become a leader in equal treatment of blacks and whites.
-She lives in Monroeville mostly from October to May, and in
-It was not Capote who was slighted by being deprived of recognition for helping write To Kill a Mockingbird, but rather Lee who was hurt by Capote’s failure to acknowledge all of her help with In Cold Blood (a documentation of the investigation and trial of the murders of a
There are two different aspects of this book that call for deeper thought:
1. The title-I think Shields named the book Mockingbird to indicate a similarity between Nelle Lee and Boo Radley.
2. Additional books- From everything Shields was able to gather about Nelle, it is very plain that she is a writer. Writers must write. I am convinced that somewhere safe, Nelle Harper Lee has several finished manuscripts that await posthumous publication. The worst fear of an author who has accomplished what Nelle Harper Lee did- on her first try- is that everything else will fall short. Nelle Harper Lee still writes, and one day we will be able to read it.