When I discovered that Kerry Madden was writing a biography about Harper Lee, I knew I had to read it. After all, it would be about my absolute favorite author and my all-time favorite book. Without fail, I devour every single word spoken by narrator, Scout, each time (I've lost count) I read To Kill A Mockingbird. Add one of the most talented and delightful authors, Kerry Madden, to the mix and it's a sure winner.
The young adult author of Gentle's Holler, Jesse's Mountain, and Louisiana Song, the Maggie Valley Trilogy set in 1960s North Carolina, has written the story of Nelle (pronounced Nail in her South Alabama hometown, Monroeville) Harper Lee with loving warmth. I have an idea how much the "Mockingbird" author means to Madden because detailed research and interviews leave no stone unturned.
Nelle, was as much a tomboy as narrator, Scout. This is probably one of the reasons I so identify with the book. Jane Hybart, a childhood friend writes that, during a softball game, she intercepted a ground ball hit by Nelle and was set to tag her out at first base. Instead of letting that happen, Nelle plowed right over Jane, knocking her flat. "Like a freight train," Jane recalled. Nelle was also wild about football, and played center on her hometown 4th grade football team and had no problem. My kinda gal!
I found Harper Lee's insecurity about her writing, refreshing. Reading through the early years of her life, it was easy to see the huge influence played by her supportive father; even if he did think giving up law school to move to New York to write, was an "unpractical profession." He thought she'd be much happier staying in Alabama writing for the Monroeville Journal. Had it not been for the encouragement of an old friend, Truman Capote, perhaps she would've backed out and the world might never have read, "He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."
I hesitate to give away anymore tidbits about the life of Nelle Harper Lee, her family and friends, because you need to read and savor this bio for yourself. Although she was turned down by Ms. Lee to be interviewed for the book, as has everyone else wanting to chronicle her life, Madden barely misses a beat in Harper Lee (Up Close).
I'm proud to announce the release of Book Four in the award-winning series, "Cynthia's Attic" will be released by Quake (Echelon Imprint) DEC 1, 2009! Buy the first three books on Amazon and pre-order "The Magician's Castle." Echelon Press