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I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

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To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across


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To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. Lee's life is as rich as her fiction, from her girlhood as a rebellious tomboy to her days at the University of Alabama and early years as a struggling writer in New York City.Charles J. Shields is the author of the New York Times bestseller Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, which he has adapted here for younger readers.What emerges in this riveting portrait is the story of an unconventional, high-spirited woman who drew on her love of writing and her Southern home to create a book that continues to speak to new generations of readers. Anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird will appreciate this glimpse into the life of its fascinating author.I Am Scout is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

18 review for I Am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    My favorite part of Harper Lee's life is her childhood with Truman Capote. After that, it just seemed like her life melted away. She couldn't handle being famous and all it entailed. So as soon as she could, she hid herself away in her house, much like her mother had.But first, I had more interest in why Truman and Harper Lee's friendship suffered, because I really liked how they were together as children. I also wanted to know why, when I heard someone quote from "Mockingbird" on TV, it sounded My favorite part of Harper Lee's life is her childhood with Truman Capote. After that, it just seemed like her life melted away. She couldn't handle being famous and all it entailed. So as soon as she could, she hid herself away in her house, much like her mother had.But first, I had more interest in why Truman and Harper Lee's friendship suffered, because I really liked how they were together as children. I also wanted to know why, when I heard someone quote from "Mockingbird" on TV, it sounded, to me, like Truman's writing? (I had only read Truman's Christmas stories and his "The Thanksgiving Visitor.") But that quote I had heard and I wish I had written down, made me go to the computer and Google, did Truman Capote help write To Kill a Mockingbird?” Well, I wasn’t the only one who had thought this.Also, Truman Capote told his biographer that Harper's mother tried to drown her when she was two. In "Mockingbird" Harper has her mother dying when she was aged two. She kills her off at the same age as when she had almost been drowned. Harper Lee vehemently denied this happening to her, which caused a rift in their friendship. There were many rifts, and this probably wasn't the first. This just stood out for me. Also, I don't think Truman was lying about her; he just talked a lot.When "Mockingbird" was published, Harper Lee gave no credit to Capote's helping her, not that the author of this book claimed that he had helped her, but Pearl Belle, a literary critic, was claimed to have said that Truman told her that he had helped Lee with "Mockingbird." Is this why he was upset that she hadn’t mentioned him? There is no mention of Pearl Belle in this book, but that is supposed to be how the story of his helping her with "Mockingbird" got started. Then Truman gives no credit to Harper for her helping him with "In Cold Blood." Was that payback for her not mentioning his helping her? Whatever the reason, this caused another rift in their relationship. As to Harper Lee's mother, well, what kind of woman would want to drown her child? One that was mentally ill. She stayed indoors most of the time, but sometimes when she went out in public she would create a scene. What these scenes were like, the author doesn't say. But her mother was manic-depressive. In later years, even Harper stayed indoors. But no one ever talks about her as being mentally ill, except that I wondered if she had been when I was reading "Watchman." I thought this because in the beginning the book was coherent, then all the sudden it became disjointed, and the thought came to me that she was mentally ill. Her staying at home all the time didn’t occur until later years, and so it would make sense that “Watchman” was written later. This is when I did another Google search, coming up with only her mother's mental illness. Maybe I was really tired when I read that section, but then I reread the court scene, and it still seemed disjointed. "Watchman," was stale and lifeless as well as boring. When she wrote an article for Vogue magazine, after having written "Mockingbird," Vogue stated, "It showed none of her hallmark humor or vividness." Ah, ha. She didn't have that Truman touch. But I also thought that "Watchman" was written by an older mature woman, one who was much more sophisticated. Harper kept telling her publishers that she was writing another book, a sequel, and that it took place in her home town with some of the same people. This went on for 10 years or more, until they finally gave up on her. Later on, when someone asked her sister Alice about the book that was now claimed to be finished, her sister said that someone had broken into the house and had stolen it. So she was writing? Is “Watchman” really that book?My favorite part of this book is still her childhood with Truman. I really liked it when Harper's father gave her and Truman a typewriter. They carried it around with them, writing stories together and even taking turns writing the same story. I just think that their childhood friendship was so delightful, and I think it continued on like this into their adult life, that is, until life got to them.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I picked this up without realizing it was the "young readers'" version of Shields' biography of Lee, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Childhood to Go Set a Watchman. I'm not sure if that's why, but sometimes it feels like it's just skimming the surface. A lot of the book is devoted to Truman Capote and In Cold Blood. I knew that Lee had been involved with that project, but I didn't realize exactly how much of her stamp is on it. And it doesn't talk at all about Go Set a Watchman and h I picked this up without realizing it was the "young readers'" version of Shields' biography of Lee, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Childhood to Go Set a Watchman. I'm not sure if that's why, but sometimes it feels like it's just skimming the surface. A lot of the book is devoted to Truman Capote and In Cold Blood. I knew that Lee had been involved with that project, but I didn't realize exactly how much of her stamp is on it. And it doesn't talk at all about Go Set a Watchman and how it fits into the whole picture.It's sad to think of her struggling to get another novel out, with TKAM such a huge thing. It must have been intimidating. I may try the original, not sure. And still on the fence about reading GSAW.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Desteny

    Book Review on I am Scout The Author to this book I am Scout is Charles J. Shields. The book I am Scout was revised in the year of 2008-2016. In the year 1979 Charles J. Shields become a highschool teacher. He became a ELA teacher because he loved to write books and read to high schoolers and he also loved to teach. He was happy when he got the job to teach high schoolers.Scouts dad has been there with her her whole life. Her brother Jem has been there for her also. They both help her with a lot Book Review on I am Scout The Author to this book I am Scout is Charles J. Shields. The book I am Scout was revised in the year of 2008-2016. In the year 1979 Charles J. Shields become a highschool teacher. He became a ELA teacher because he loved to write books and read to high schoolers and he also loved to teach. He was happy when he got the job to teach high schoolers.Scouts dad has been there with her her whole life. Her brother Jem has been there for her also. They both help her with a lot. They all help each other with things also. Scout also has a helper at their house that helps her dad take care of them. She has to clean up their house also and she has to do all the work and all of the cooking for them. The genre to this book I am Scout is Biography. Someone is telling Scouts story. I am Scout is a true story that Charles J. Shields wrote. This book is a story that goes with To Kill a Mockingbird. This book talks about Scout's life and what she does in life and how she fixes her problems in life. Scout always keep trying she would never give up on anything even if she wanted to she would just keep trying. The main character in I am Scout is Scout. She is a girl that goes to school and she has to wear dresses there at school. My favorite character in this book is Scout because she is the main character of this book. I am scout is another story To Kill a Mockingbird. They have high school english classrooms. To kill a mockingbird is a novel just like the book I am scout. This book gives me a lot of information about it. It is a really good interesting story. If scout has a problem she knows how to fix it herself she never gives up on fixing her problems. The reason why I like the book I am scout is because I also read the book to kill a mockingbird and it is a really good book also. This book is just like some books. It is a good book and it's really interesting. It is just like To Kill a Mockingbird because they talk about that book a lot in I am scout. That is why I like this book.I would give this 4 stars because there is another book about Scout. The book is called To Kill a Mockingbird. It is one of my favorite books. I would want my English Teacher to read I am Scout because she read the book To Kill a Mockingbird, before and I think that she would really like it. To Kill a Mockingbird is a really good book just like the book I am Scout. I would also want to read this book again because Scout is my favorite character in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Melinda Dye - Biography"I Am Scout" chronicles the life of American writer Harper Lee. Growing up in poor, rural Monroeville, Alabama, Nelle Harper Lee was obviously different from her more genteel classmates; brash, opinionated, and not the ladylike creature she was expected to be. This book shares many facets of her life, from the businesslike courtship of her parents, her mother's mental illness, her struggles to find her place in college, and her disenchantment with law school. It also cover Melinda Dye - Biography"I Am Scout" chronicles the life of American writer Harper Lee. Growing up in poor, rural Monroeville, Alabama, Nelle Harper Lee was obviously different from her more genteel classmates; brash, opinionated, and not the ladylike creature she was expected to be. This book shares many facets of her life, from the businesslike courtship of her parents, her mother's mental illness, her struggles to find her place in college, and her disenchantment with law school. It also covers in depth her longtime friendship with Truman Capote, from playing together constantly as children, to her (uncredited) assistance on Capote's "In Cold Blood," to his jealousy over her win of the Pulitzer Prize he thought should be his, and their subsequent estrangement. And, of course, it covers the years she spent writing her true American classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird," and the writing and filming of the seminal movie. I really enjoyed this book; there was so much information on Harper Lee's life, and how incredibly smart and driven she was. For example, I never knew she worked for an airline; that Truman Capote only got most of his information for "In Cold Blood" due to her smoothing the way with the local townsfolk; and that she spent one of the happiest times of her life at Oxford, tracing the steps and visiting the places mentioned by some of her favorite authors. A great read for a biography fan!!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Allie Randall

    Genre/Category: biography/non-fictionRead for "non-fiction" requirementSummary:Charles J. Shields tells the life story of reclusive Nelle Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the greatest novels ever written. Shields presents us with Nelle's background, describing her personality, her family life, and perhaps most importantly, the connections between her personal life and her only novel. Lee's life is marked with excitement and sadness, which make for an intriguing biography t Genre/Category: biography/non-fictionRead for "non-fiction" requirementSummary:Charles J. Shields tells the life story of reclusive Nelle Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the greatest novels ever written. Shields presents us with Nelle's background, describing her personality, her family life, and perhaps most importantly, the connections between her personal life and her only novel. Lee's life is marked with excitement and sadness, which make for an intriguing biography that keeps the pages turning. Full of quotes and anecdotes, the book really reveals Lee's inner life touching on issues of her mother's mental illnesses, her best friend's betrayal, and her reasons for never writing another book. I was shocked at some parts of the book, felt immense pity for Lee, soared with her in her successes, and ultimately felt like I knew Harper Lee by the time the book was done. Well-written and engaging, Shields has provided an excellent resource for understanding To Kill A Mockingbird and fabulous insight for one of the greatest authors of modern time. The interesting stories could really interest young adult readers who need some background on the book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Wright

    I am Scout is a fascinating and well-written biography of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The connection it shows between author and her work compliment each book and captured the interest and imagination. It is exciting to know that Scout lived, and refreshing to read about the success of one determined,non-conforming, clear-sighted, spunky young writer.The book details events through Lee's life from early childhood to her years as an older woman at peace with herself, all th I am Scout is a fascinating and well-written biography of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The connection it shows between author and her work compliment each book and captured the interest and imagination. It is exciting to know that Scout lived, and refreshing to read about the success of one determined,non-conforming, clear-sighted, spunky young writer.The book details events through Lee's life from early childhood to her years as an older woman at peace with herself, all the while drawing connections from the events and people which influenced her to her magnum opus. It shows how her early life affected the work, how the work affected her, and how the work affected her family and community. Overall, I would highly recommend this biography as a companion to Lee's novel. It added depth and a new dimension of interest to an already fascinating tale, while inspiring the reader with respect for determination leading to achievement, and a thirst for that sort ability to remain true to oneself which Nelle Harper Lee embodies.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chae

    "I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee" by Charles J. Shields did not captivate me as I thought it would. The biography evidently tells the life story of Harper Lee, which may be interesting if you are fascinated by her life, but otherwise, it was rather tedious(in my opinion, of course.) The biography takes place in Alabama, where the story of "To Kill a Mockingbird" takes place as well. The novel explains the parallels between Harper Lee's prominent novel and her own life. Charles J. Shiel "I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee" by Charles J. Shields did not captivate me as I thought it would. The biography evidently tells the life story of Harper Lee, which may be interesting if you are fascinated by her life, but otherwise, it was rather tedious(in my opinion, of course.) The biography takes place in Alabama, where the story of "To Kill a Mockingbird" takes place as well. The novel explains the parallels between Harper Lee's prominent novel and her own life. Charles J. Shields explains that Harper Lee was a typical tomboy who would rather play rough games than braid her hair and have sleepover with other girls. This can definitely be seen through Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird." This biography is interesting, and I recommend reading it before or after reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for a better understanding of her novel or her life. However, it didn't draw me in as I hoped it would.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Angela Bailey

    Title / Author / Publication Date: I am Scout: The biography of Harper Lee. / Charles J. Shields. / 2008.Genre: Young Adult - Nonfiction: Biography.Format: Book - print. 212 pages.Plot summary:"The author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee adapts his best-selling title to bring to young readers the life of the unconventional, high-spirited woman who wrote one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird" (NoveList).Considerations or precautions for readers advisory: American a Title / Author / Publication Date: I am Scout: The biography of Harper Lee. / Charles J. Shields. / 2008.Genre: Young Adult - Nonfiction: Biography.Format: Book - print. 212 pages.Plot summary:"The author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee adapts his best-selling title to bring to young readers the life of the unconventional, high-spirited woman who wrote one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird" (NoveList).Considerations or precautions for readers advisory: American authors, Harper Lee, successful women writers in the 1950's, friendshipReview citation:"The text does an excellent job of conveying the facets of Lee's personality that made her a writing success, including her honesty, tenacity, sense of justice and adaptability of interpersonal style" (Kirkus Reviews).Section source used to find the material: YALSA: 2009 Best Books for Young AdultsRecommended age: Ages 13 - 18.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Danny Regan

    An excellent and thoughtful book. It manages to show the childhood of Harper lee without saying "THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WAS ALSO IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" the whole damn time. I also like how it shows how to kill a mockingbirds success impacted her. She was of course working on another book, but the success became so overwhelming that she couldn't focus on it. Highly recommend the book An excellent and thoughtful book. It manages to show the childhood of Harper lee without saying "THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WAS ALSO IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" the whole damn time. I also like how it shows how to kill a mockingbirds success impacted her. She was of course working on another book, but the success became so overwhelming that she couldn't focus on it. Highly recommend the book

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth Pier

    I enjoyed both To Kill A Mockingbird & Go Set A Watchman immensely - so - I was anxious to learn more about Harper Lee's life and perhaps how it shaped these books.I feel like the author spent far too much time saying the same thing - over and over.... And over..... I enjoyed both To Kill A Mockingbird & Go Set A Watchman immensely - so - I was anxious to learn more about Harper Lee's life and perhaps how it shaped these books.I feel like the author spent far too much time saying the same thing - over and over.... And over.....

  11. 4 out of 5

    Terri Stapleton

    Love seeing the connections between her history and Scout's. Great bio for middle school, even high schoolers readers to check out as companion piece to the novel. Love seeing the connections between her history and Scout's. Great bio for middle school, even high schoolers readers to check out as companion piece to the novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

    Many aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird are autobiographical. Monroeville served as the model for Maycomb, and Lee was dubbed "Queen of the Tomboys" by at least one friend; Lee gave all three of her mother's names to various characters in the novel. There is at least anecdotal evidence that Boo Radley was based on an actual neighbor. Finally, Lee has stated that Atticus Finch was based largely on her own father.It was a stunning debut. With time, Lee’s novel became something more: a national hallm Many aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird are autobiographical. Monroeville served as the model for Maycomb, and Lee was dubbed "Queen of the Tomboys" by at least one friend; Lee gave all three of her mother's names to various characters in the novel. There is at least anecdotal evidence that Boo Radley was based on an actual neighbor. Finally, Lee has stated that Atticus Finch was based largely on her own father.It was a stunning debut. With time, Lee’s novel became something more: a national hallmark in a culture becoming ever more disjointed. In a 1991 survey, the Library of Congress asked readers which book most influenced their lives. Only the Bible outranked To Kill a Mockingbird. It has sold an estimated forty million copies or more and been translated into three dozen languages, from Swedish to Urdu. It is required reading for at least 70 percent of U.S. high school students.The novel became a classic at the same time as it defied Mark Twain’s definition of one: “a book people praise and don’t read.” References to the work appear in movies, on television, in uncountable other books, and in comic strips, cartoons, and lyrics. People cite the novel as the motive they became writers or lawyers. The characters’ uncommon names have a contented acquaintance even to those who haven’t read the novel in years, or perhaps never did. In the early 1960s, shortly after publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee accompanied her childhood friend Truman Capote — the basis for the Dill Harris character — to Holcomb, Kansas, and served as a research assistant for Capote's 1966 novel, In Cold Blood.Upon her bereavement, Time would write, ‘Named, sort of, after one of her grandmothers (“Nelle” is “Ellen” backwards), she was the family’s youngest child and finally would survive brother Edwin (who died in 1951), sister Louise (who died in 2009) and sister Alice, who became a lawyer, took over their father’s practice and died in 2014. Nelle would never marry, but she always had a passel of friends and admirers. In 1944 and ’45, she attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama, and then switched to the University of Alabama, where she explored her burgeoning interest in writing (nurtured in high school) and her father’s interest in law. She would spend time as an exchange student at Oxford in England, and would spend other time contributing to Bama’s humor magazine Rammer-Jammer. She would, by 1949, land in New York City. There is nothing unusual about this smart young woman’s profile. Her arc was that of an achiever.’Written by Charles J. Shields, this portrait of the disreputably cloistered and avant-garde author of To Kill a Mockingbird highlights Lee’s conception of this acclaimed novel and her lifelong friendship with Truman Capote. Shields investigates the similarities between Lee and Scout, the narrator of her novel, looks at the role Lee played in helping Capote do research for his own classic, In Cold Blood, and explores the enigma of why she never published another book. Shields divides the book in ten chapters: 1. “Ellen” Spelled Backward2. “Apart People”3. First Hints of To Kill a Mockingbird4. Rammer Jammer5. “Willing to Be Lucky”6. “See NL’s Notes”7. Mockingbird Takes Off8. “Oh, Mr. Peck!”9. The Second Novel10. Quiet TimeTo Kill a Mockingbird was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and was made into a major motion picture starring Gregory Peck in 1962. Lee was so overwhelmed with Peck's depiction of Atticus Finch that she gave him her father's pocket watch at the end of the movie's filming.I Am Scout is a reworking of Shields’s popular Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (2006), adapted for young-adult readers. Shields based his books on extensive documentary and interview research, but did not have access to Harper Lee.Atticus Finch. Scout. Boo Radley. The unfamiliar names from Depression-era Alabama now inhabit the lustrous pages of People and Us Weekly, as celebrities, as well as plenty of regular folks, name their children Harper, Atticus, or Scout.As the novel’s cultural inspiration grew, so did Lee’s mystique. A few years after the book was published, she fundamentally stopped giving interviews. The second novel she had once discussed never appeared. Her rare public appearances made headlines. Her speeches, when she did accept an occasional award, usually consisted of two words: “Thank you.” When she was loquacious, she went on twice as long. “Thank you very much.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maya King

    For my next book, I took on my Non-fiction requirement for the semester. And I found that "I am Scout", by Charles Shields, proved to be a great choice for this. The biography follows the life of Southerner Nelle "Harper" Lee, who wrote the book "To Kill a Mockingbird". We get to see how Nelle evolves from a tomboy who grew up in a small town to a young woman who finds her stride in writing. In addition, we get to see how the people in her life are similar to the characters in her book. For inst For my next book, I took on my Non-fiction requirement for the semester. And I found that "I am Scout", by Charles Shields, proved to be a great choice for this. The biography follows the life of Southerner Nelle "Harper" Lee, who wrote the book "To Kill a Mockingbird". We get to see how Nelle evolves from a tomboy who grew up in a small town to a young woman who finds her stride in writing. In addition, we get to see how the people in her life are similar to the characters in her book. For instance, she was raised as a girl who was treated like an adult from her attorney father, A.C. Lee, which resembles the relationship between a young Scout and her father Atticus. In addition, we meet Truman, who resembles Dill, and a few others who paved the way for characters in this Southern novel. And as Nelle gets older, she finds her love of books with Truman, leading her to follow her dream to write despite her family's wishes. We get to see her life in school, where she doesn't fit in for her boyish attitudes, to her time in New York writing the book, to the time where she is pressured by those around her to live up to the book's legacy. While this book had good and bad effects on her life, she shows all throughout her journey that she really is Scout. And that was just enough. Truthfully I thought this book was pretty good, but I just don't like non-fiction books. I could even go on to say that if this wasn't a requirement, I wouldn't go out to read this story. But since it was necessary, I thought that this was a good non-fiction biography for me. You get to see how Nelle changes throughout the book, and how she is a really unique person. I honestly liked that, and it seemed nice for us to watch someone who didn't wear makeup or flirt in the 50's, or who sang nineteenth-century songs. And while those facts seem a bit out there, that was the thing about Nelle, she was a very out there type of person. But while Nelle seemed fun and pure in her journey, others weren't. Seeing people like the nosy, self-centered Truman and other more boring people slowed the book down. I know that this is supposed to be about her life story, but having every single person who ever met her in there was a bit overkill. You couldn't tell who everyone was and it confused me. Not to mention that there was a really boring ending after "To Kill a Mockingbird" is released. But all in all, this was a very nice book with a very nice leading lady that paved the way for many writers. There are a few people I would recommend this to. One, those who have read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and really enjoyed it. Two, those who like biographies that involve a really interesting feminist like Nelle. She was truly the heart of the book just as Scout and Atticus were to Nelle's novel. This book also allowed you to see the connections between her life and her own written story, which is both something to recommend to those people, and the reason why she truly is Scout.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Adele

    The author did his research and uses quotes from many sources to tell the story of Nelle Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. Its crazy how successful that book immediately was and continues to be. They read it in Joe Green's seventh-grade English class at Latin. I have loved it every time that I have read it. One of the few books I have read more than once. Loved the movie too. Made me admire people who do the right thing when it is not easy. To this day I think of To Kill a Mocking The author did his research and uses quotes from many sources to tell the story of Nelle Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. Its crazy how successful that book immediately was and continues to be. They read it in Joe Green's seventh-grade English class at Latin. I have loved it every time that I have read it. One of the few books I have read more than once. Loved the movie too. Made me admire people who do the right thing when it is not easy. To this day I think of To Kill a Mockingbird as my first lesson in empathy. Liked reading this book the same way I like reading People magazine, to find out what goes on between famous people. Truman Capote seems like such a sad person. He did not acknowledge the key role Nelle played in his book In Cold Blood. I have never read that. Guess I should. She was such a good friend to him from their childhood on and he just betrayed their friendship. I read the YA version cuz I found it at Tenley on display. Probably should have read the adult version Mockingbird. Learned a few things. She really worked hard with her editor to create a novel from her vignettes. That means she was tough-skinned enough to take criticism and respond to it. Think I was really drawn to Scout because she did so many things that I would have liked to do-being a tomboy, not fussing about her appearance, not being controlled by her mom. Never wanted to cuss tho. Must have been hard growing up with her mom who was probably just so bored with the house wife life. I had forgotten that in the Mockingbird, their maid's name was Calpurnia. Might be a sub-conscious connection I made when I read and loved The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate-another feminist malcontent.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Yarwood

    We’re all thinking the same thing; how can you write a biography about a renowned hermit? Charles J Shields will show you how in this YA book about the life of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird.Of course, Harper Lee wasn’t always a hermit. Shields uses source materials from her early years - speaking to classmates, rifling through articles from her school papers and leaning heavily on her relationship with Truman Capote. Shields deftly recreates their joint investigation into a grisly We’re all thinking the same thing; how can you write a biography about a renowned hermit? Charles J Shields will show you how in this YA book about the life of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird.Of course, Harper Lee wasn’t always a hermit. Shields uses source materials from her early years - speaking to classmates, rifling through articles from her school papers and leaning heavily on her relationship with Truman Capote. Shields deftly recreates their joint investigation into a grisly murder of a family in Holcomb, Kansas. This led to the publication of In True Blood - a novel just as famous, though not as loved, as To Kill A Mockingbird. Which possibly reflects the personalities of Truman and Nelle (Harper Lee).We also get to relive the making of the adored film adaptation, starring Gregory Peck. It is interesting to see how his strong personality moulded the editing of the film to present Atticus as the star over the children.Of course, as Nelle’s much anticipated second novel looked less and less likely to appear, she began to retreat and Shields is left with less to work with. But we benefit from the tale of Monroeville (inspiration for her story) and how it developed through the decades. There are ‘sightings’ and despite living a long time in New York, it is charming to know that Nelle returned to her childhood town to live out her days with her sister.I really enjoyed this book, it’s well written and the histories it recreated linger in your mind. It adds further richness to the classic tale. The source material is plentiful and I think any lover of To Kill A Mockingbird will love this book too.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ekaterina Kareli

    What I like about Nelle Harper Lee (in addition to the fact that she gave birth to one of my favourite books ever) is that she was, positively, a total weirdo. She had never sought to be rich and famous and lived a quiet, peaceful life in her hometown in Alabama, carefully protecting her privacy. For Charles Shields, it had set the bar sky-high, as writing a decent biography of such a distant person always seems like a tough challenge. In this regard, he has done a great job. He has fuelled the What I like about Nelle Harper Lee (in addition to the fact that she gave birth to one of my favourite books ever) is that she was, positively, a total weirdo. She had never sought to be rich and famous and lived a quiet, peaceful life in her hometown in Alabama, carefully protecting her privacy. For Charles Shields, it had set the bar sky-high, as writing a decent biography of such a distant person always seems like a tough challenge. In this regard, he has done a great job. He has fuelled the book with plenty of tiny cute facts and of course, has placed some really nice pictures - I can't thank him more for that. But generally speaking, it has come out to be not so gripping and it seems that the author has his personal animus toward Truman Capote as he didn't miss a chance to nettle him every 20 pages. There will not be any gainsaying here, I am not an expert on Capote's life and legacy but I am sure Nelle would send to hell anyone who is mean to her friends. Because she is a real scout.

  17. 5 out of 5

    JoEllen

    This biography is a young adult version of the bio Mockingbird, by the same author. I’m kind of convinced that all books should be done the same- concise, still full of lots of anecdotes and interesting details, but not so huge as to overwhelm and exhaust. I liked it and learned a lot. Harper Lee was a charming writer and like most artists, struggled with life and with figuring out what was next. The statement at the end that those who find peace within themselves are the best sort, seems to be This biography is a young adult version of the bio Mockingbird, by the same author. I’m kind of convinced that all books should be done the same- concise, still full of lots of anecdotes and interesting details, but not so huge as to overwhelm and exhaust. I liked it and learned a lot. Harper Lee was a charming writer and like most artists, struggled with life and with figuring out what was next. The statement at the end that those who find peace within themselves are the best sort, seems to be what she eventually created out of her own dilemma of fame. I know this biography represents a tremendous amount of research, and respect the author for his time and ability to put it together in an interesting way.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    Shields presents a captivating look at Harper Lee’s life before, during, and after the blockbuster success of To Kill a Mockingbird. Written for a YA audience, but appealing to any audience, this biography is an engaging, well-crafted look at a fascinating woman and her associations with family, community, friends, and fans. Shields includes many anecdotes (researched and footnoted) that this fan of Lee and her novel has never encountered before. Every secondary school should have this book in t Shields presents a captivating look at Harper Lee’s life before, during, and after the blockbuster success of To Kill a Mockingbird. Written for a YA audience, but appealing to any audience, this biography is an engaging, well-crafted look at a fascinating woman and her associations with family, community, friends, and fans. Shields includes many anecdotes (researched and footnoted) that this fan of Lee and her novel has never encountered before. Every secondary school should have this book in their library; every teacher of Mockingbird needs to be familiar with this text and encourage students to read it.

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