I loved To Kill A Mockingbird the moment I started the book! I loved the characters, the story, the messages. Atticus Finch is such a wonderful role model; Scout is the type of kid I wanted to be. I wanted a Boo Radley in my neighborhood (I may have gotten my wish after all these years...) The story was so vivid and real; I always wondered how much of the story was based on Ms. Lee's real life. (And, yes, she is Ms. Lee to me. She's the epitome of a southern lady; referring to her in any other manner would be, to me, a sign of disrespect for my favorite author.)
Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee answers a lot of my questions. Although there are no first person accounts from Harper Lee herself, the author Charles J. Shields, researched her life so thoroughly that he left little to question. Lee has had a fascinating life; much of her childhood made its way into her novel. From friendship with Truman Capote to her experiences in New York City, it would be easy to imagine that she lives the high life after publishing one of the most cherished books of the Twentieth Century. Instead, Ms. Lee has spent the majority of her life immersed in her small Alabama hometown living with her older sister and attending the yearly church bazaar. Her life is small and compact and, by all accounts, she loves it.
Mockingbird describes Ms. Lee's childhood, illustrates her process for writing and publishing her beautiful story, and details how the book changed the world, for no one more so than Ms. Lee herself. I've always wanted another Lee novel and Mockingbird explains why it never came to fruition. More than that, though, Mockingbird tells us what happened to the real Scout when she grew up. And, just as I always imagined, she grew up to create a wonderful life for herself, her own way.