Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden

Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden
Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden

Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden sheds some light on the famous author of To Kill a Mockingbird by bringing the reader directly into the world in which Lee grew up.

Harper Lee from childhood through adult life

Kerry Madden’s biography offers anecdotes from friends, insight into family members and significant events in Lee’s life from childhood through her adult years. Madden gives us a glimpse into the lives of some of the people who likely helped mold Lee into the woman she became: her sister, Alice Lee; a beloved teacher who lived just across the street; her father, attorney Amasa Coleman Lee; a college professor who likely helped shape her writing style and various others. The book also details her early writing career, living on little in New York and leaning on Truman Capote to introduce her to New York’s literary scene.

Influence and Truman Capote

Of course, Kerry Madden also discusses the drafts of To Kill a Mockingbird, and perhaps more telling—about her role in researching Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Lee’s close and loving friendship with the other author eventually turned sour based on what Harper Lee would describe later as mental illness, which was accompanied by drug and alcohol abuse.

Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden at Ol' Curiosities and Book Shoppe
Up Close: Harper Lee by Kerry Madden at Ol’ Curiosities and Book Shoppe

The publication of To Kill a Mockingbird

Kerry Madden also engages her readers in the success of To Kill a Mockingbird after publication, offering up quotes from Harper Lee herself about the similarities of the book and its characters to her personal life and friends and family, as well as the journey she both enjoyed and endured when Hollywood took interest in “The Bird.” (This moniker was given to the book when Lee and her sister Alice realized the novel that had seemingly taken on a life of its own.)

Kerry Madden’s Up Close: Harper Lee–Exactly what we expect

Throughout Kerry Madden’s Up Close: Harper Lee, the reader retains the overwhelming impression that Harper Lee is nothing if not exceptionally normal. While she produced one of the greatest books in literature, she is also delightfully human—intelligent, funny, and full of common sense that others seems to lack. It is this sort of insight into her personality that will make Mockingbird fans love her even more—it is what we expect from Scout Finch in the flesh, and we are even more enamored after this quick and enjoyable read from Kerry Madden.

True Mockingbird fans won’t want to miss this book about the renowned author they love. After you get Up Close: Harper Lee, let us know your thoughts!


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