Kerry Madden's Up Close: Harper Lee is a very honest and fascinating biography for young adults and teens. This was an especially challenging biography to craft considering its subject, Harper Lee, does not grant interviews and shuns the public eye. Although Madden was unable to interview Harper Lee, or Nelle as she's known locally, she was able to glean plenty of facts and information from Ms. Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Al.
Up Close begins with a brief forward reviewing Madden's research process since Harper Lee didn't give her a personal interview, and follows with a synopsis of Lee's famous book To Kill a Mockingbird. Although this biography is intended for those who have already read the book, it's still a practical read for those might have only seen the movie. It quickly moves into the people and stories that were part of Harper lee's childhood, many of which are found in her book. The stories are entertaining and the people are characters in their own right. Madden includes inserts about Ms. Lee's life as a college student and her departure from practicing law. Although the media portrays Harper as a hermit, in truth she led a very exciting and adventurous life. So far the only thing that has slowed down Ms. Lee is her age.
Even though Up Close is geared for young adults it is a worthy read for anyone who's enjoyed Harper Lee's work. Madden also included a first rate bibliography and source notes for anyone interested in doing their own research or more in depth reading. Up Close is guaranteed to make you want to brush off your own copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and see what you might have missed.
- Additional Information
ISBN 0670010952 EAN 9780670010950 Target Group 12 and up Publisher Viking Children's Books Publish Date Mar 19, 2009 Copyright Date Mar 19, 2009 Binding Hardcover
Customer Reviews 2 item(s)
- A Must-Read for Mockingbird Fans
The Up Close series is a selection of biographies targeted towards young adults. These are profiles of politicians, entertainers, writers and civil leaders—people who lived interesting lives, who were passionate about what they did, and who were game changers in their fields. Kerry Madden’s Up Close: Harper Lee is a great biography for all ages and a quick read.
Madden’s writing style is honest and selective—she’s chosen only the most important details that elucidate Lee’s life, character and writing. The talented, award-winning novelist Harper Lee is famously private and guards that privacy vehemently. Madden is up front about the fact that she attempted to get permission to write the biography from Lee, but that Lee does not authorize biographies. Madden then pursued her interviews and research independently, and produced a thoughtful, fair account of the author’s life.
She begins with an description of Lee’s childhood in Monroeville, Alabama and her friendship with Truman Capote. She discusses Lee’s time in school and abroad, and her decision to quit law school and move to New York to be a writer. She describes Lee’s process of writing and editing To Kill a Mockingbird, and her meteoric rise to fame after its publication. Madden doesn’t make assumptions about the author’s life or her decisions, but merely presents the facts in a clear, well-written manner.
For fans of To Kill a Mockingbird (which Lee shortened to “M’bird” in letters) and fans of Harper Lee herself, Madden’s book is a must read.
- Just Plain Folks
Up Close: Harper Lee is a solid, easily read biography—great for readers of all ages, especially those who happen to also be To Kill a Mockingbird fans. Author Kerry Madden takes us through the childhood and early adult years of the renowned writer and offers some insight to her character, along with parallels to Mockingbird’s protagonist, Scout Finch, and to the townspeople of Monroeville, AL (the town that provided the foundation for the fictional Mockingbird setting of Maycomb).
This book also gives its readers some decidedly interesting insight to the relationship between Truman Capote and Harper Lee, best childhood friends who became estranged later in life and eventually took very different if equally famous paths.
We learn about Lee’s family and friends and the dynamics that played into who she became—from a doting, older sister with a wonderful work ethic, to a father who raised his daughters against the grain of what was common in those times—to become educated and thoughtful first, and worry about looking for husbands later.
Not only does Kerry Madden tie in her own reasons, which are so very nearly the reasons of readers everywhere, for loving To Kill a Mockingbird, she offers up a simple, yet profound reason for that love—that author Harper Lee is human, as one neighbor put it: “Nelle (Harper) Lee is just plain folks,” … and perhaps that is why we all seem to identify so well with her work.