This review will be hard for me to write, and therefore, possibly short. I read this while at a baseball game last night (I’m not a big fan of sports…) and I can’t tell you how much it touched me. I looked up into the endlessly dark sky, and I thought. I thought and thought and thought. I felt so connected to Harper Lee- we’re linked, somehow. I find myself to be so much like her, it’s strange and impossible. I only wish she lived near me, I feel like I could talk to her for hours on end, but not about To Kill a Mockingbird. If this biography accurately describes her character, she is an honest, quirky, shy woman. I loved learning about her and her life. It made me understand the book To Kill a Mockingbird so much more deeply and why Harper Lee rarely goes out in public.
To Kill a Mockingbird is read in 74% of American high schools, but few know the author behind Harper Lee. Her real name is Nelle (pronounced Nel) and she is extremely similar to her character, Scout. She grew up with a father similar to Atticus, and a friend, Truman Capote, in some ways like Dill. But in To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee took out the character of her mother, two older sisters, and Dill’s sensitive and egotistical side. Capote claims that Nelle’s mother tried to drown her twice, but Nelle denies this. Her relationship with her mother, however, was practically non-existent. Frances Cunningham Finch Lee was of high society, and her mind was stifled in the town of Monroeville, Alabama. Nelle rarely got along with her mother, but was close to her father, and called him A. C. She dreamt of being a writer, but was often too shy.
I cannot recommend this book without saying that it is based off another book, Mockingbird, which I have yet to start. I Am Scout is for younger readers, while Mockingbird is for adults. As usual, I recommend the unabridged version of books, and in this case, I would probably read Mockingbird instead. They both are wonderful, if not eerily similar, books.
I can usually tell whether I like a book by the ease of writing my review. It has taken me less than ten minutes to write this, which is a very high honor. Of course, the subject matter of I Am Scout definitely influenced my liking of the book. I started knowing however the book was written, I would like it because I really didn’t know about Nelle. Turns out, it’s a fabulous book that’s well written and entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the chapter titles- “Ellen” Spelled Backward, “Oh, Mr. Peck!”, and others.
Please read this book or Mockingbird. And if you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, I suggest you run to the nearest bookstore, pay up six dollars for the paperback, and sit down for one, long read. I Am Scout is by Charles J. Shields, and certainly is worth much more than it’s price. When you sit down with I Am Scout or Mockingbird, make sure know that neither is authorized by Harper Lee. Some of it is guesswork by Shields. I’m fine with that, though, and I respect Lee’s right to privacy.