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To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. Lee's life is as rich as her fiction, from her girlhood as a rebellious tomboy to her days at the University of Alabama and early years as a struggling writer in New York City. Charles J. Shields is the author of the New York Times bestseller Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, which he has adapted here for younger readers.What emerges in this riveting portrait is the story of an unconventional, high-spirited woman who drew on her love of writing and her Southern home to create a book that continues to speak to new generations of readers. Anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird will appreciate this glimpse into the life of its fascinating author. I Am Scout is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.


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To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in American literature. It's also a perennial favorite in highschool English classrooms across the nation. Yet onetime author Harper Lee is a mysterious figure who leads a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, refusing to give interviews or talk about the novel that made her a household name. Lee's life is as rich as her fiction, from her girlhood as a rebellious tomboy to her days at the University of Alabama and early years as a struggling writer in New York City. Charles J. Shields is the author of the New York Times bestseller Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, which he has adapted here for younger readers.What emerges in this riveting portrait is the story of an unconventional, high-spirited woman who drew on her love of writing and her Southern home to create a book that continues to speak to new generations of readers. Anyone who has enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird will appreciate this glimpse into the life of its fascinating author. I Am Scout is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

30 review for I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessaka

    My favorite part of Harper Lee's life is her childhood with Truman Capote. After that, it just seemed like her life melted away. She couldn't handle being famous and all it entailed. So as soon as she could, she hid herself away in her house, much like her mother had. But first, I had more interest in why Truman and Harper Lee's friendship suffered, because I really liked how they were together as children. I also wanted to know why, when I heard someone quote from "Mockingbird" on TV, it sounded My favorite part of Harper Lee's life is her childhood with Truman Capote. After that, it just seemed like her life melted away. She couldn't handle being famous and all it entailed. So as soon as she could, she hid herself away in her house, much like her mother had. But first, I had more interest in why Truman and Harper Lee's friendship suffered, because I really liked how they were together as children. I also wanted to know why, when I heard someone quote from "Mockingbird" on TV, it sounded, to me, like Truman's writing? (I had only read Truman's Christmas stories and his "The Thanksgiving Visitor.") But that quote I had heard and I wish I had written down, made me go to the computer and Google, did Truman Capote help write To Kill a Mockingbird?” Well, I wasn’t the only one who had thought this. Also, Truman Capote told his biographer that Harper's mother tried to drown her when she was two. In "Mockingbird" Harper has her mother dying when she was aged two. She kills her off at the same age as when she had almost been drowned. Harper Lee vehemently denied this happening to her, which caused a rift in their friendship. There were many rifts, and this probably wasn't the first. This just stood out for me. Also, I don't think Truman was lying about her; he just talked a lot. When "Mockingbird" was published, Harper Lee gave no credit to Capote's helping her, not that the author of this book claimed that he had helped her, but Pearl Belle, a literary critic, was claimed to have said that Truman told her that he had helped Lee with "Mockingbird." Is this why he was upset that she hadn’t mentioned him? There is no mention of Pearl Belle in this book, but that is supposed to be how the story of his helping her with "Mockingbird" got started. Then Truman gives no credit to Harper for her helping him with "In Cold Blood." Was that payback for her not mentioning his helping her? Whatever the reason, this caused another rift in their relationship. As to Harper Lee's mother, well, what kind of woman would want to drown her child? One that was mentally ill. She stayed indoors most of the time, but sometimes when she went out in public she would create a scene. What these scenes were like, the author doesn't say. But her mother was manic-depressive. In later years, even Harper stayed indoors. But no one ever talks about her as being mentally ill, except that I wondered if she had been when I was reading "Watchman." I thought this because in the beginning the book was coherent, then all the sudden it became disjointed, and the thought came to me that she was mentally ill. Her staying at home all the time didn’t occur until later years, and so it would make sense that “Watchman” was written later. This is when I did another Google search, coming up with only her mother's mental illness. Maybe I was really tired when I read that section, but then I reread the court scene, and it still seemed disjointed. "Watchman," was stale and lifeless as well as boring. When she wrote an article for Vogue magazine, after having written "Mockingbird," Vogue stated, "It showed none of her hallmark humor or vividness." Ah, ha. She didn't have that Truman touch. But I also thought that "Watchman" was written by an older mature woman, one who was much more sophisticated. Harper kept telling her publishers that she was writing another book, a sequel, and that it took place in her home town with some of the same people. This went on for 10 years or more, until they finally gave up on her. Later on, when someone asked her sister Alice about the book that was now claimed to be finished, her sister said that someone had broken into the house and had stolen it. So she was writing? Is “Watchman” really that book? My favorite part of this book is still her childhood with Truman. I really liked it when Harper's father gave her and Truman a typewriter. They carried it around with them, writing stories together and even taking turns writing the same story. I just think that their childhood friendship was so delightful, and I think it continued on like this into their adult life, that is, until life got to them.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patricia

    To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in America, and one of the most frequently assigned in high school English classes. It is also one of the best loved. The tomboy Scout and attorney/father Atticus are two of the most vivid characters in US literature. Surprisingly, author Harper Lee never completed another novel, although she probably contributed at least half of the research and writing of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Two books by Charles J. Shields explore To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the most widely read novels in America, and one of the most frequently assigned in high school English classes. It is also one of the best loved. The tomboy Scout and attorney/father Atticus are two of the most vivid characters in US literature. Surprisingly, author Harper Lee never completed another novel, although she probably contributed at least half of the research and writing of Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood. Two books by Charles J. Shields explore why Lee never produced another work of fiction, why she dressed and acted the way she did, how the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird lived up to her expectations, and how true to life her story was. In Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, Charles J. Shields explored Nelle Harper Lee’s childhood and how it shaped her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. He also told of Nelle’s friendship with neighbor Truman Capote, her days at the University of Alabama, and her years as a struggling writer in New York City. I Am Scout is Shields’ adaptation of Mockingbird for a younger audience, and like the former, pieces together hundreds of interviews with Lee’s neighbors, friends and schoolmates, along with archival information. The books succeed in capturing the mysterious Nelle Harper Lee, an unconventional child, student and woman with a very private life in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The book opens in the middle of a brawl between a seven-year-old Nelle and the older boys bullying her next door neighbor, Truman Streckfus Persons, in the Monroe County Elementary School playground. As always, Nelle triumphed, and Truman, her scrawny friend, was spared from the consequences of his provoking behavior. Every bit as fearsome as her future character Scout, Nelle, whose name was Ellen spelled backward, was considered a bully and a know-it-all by her contemporaries. Like the girl in the novel and the film, she wore boy’s overalls and pants, and loved to write. Her attorney father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was the inspiration for Atticus, and after having worked as a bookkeeper and financial manager, Lee “read for the law,” a sort of homeschooling monitored by attorneys, and passed the bar in 1915. Since Monroeville was the county seat, plenty of legal cases came his way, and he was able to provide an upper middle class home for his wife and children. Nelle’s mother was not deceased, as was the case for Scout in the novel. Known to be a brilliant woman, Mrs. Lee was a gifted classical pianist and kept a clean, simple house. The Lees employed black housekeepers, sometimes two at a time, who cooked, cleaned and looked after the children. One, Hattie Clausell, lived with the Lees for many years, and may have been the person Harper Lee was recalling when creating Calpurnia. Her round the clock presence in TKAM was true-to life, Shields says. Despite the ever-present help with household chores, Mrs. Lee was not a happy person, and her husband worried about her mental state. She suffered from depression and severe mood swings, and was unpredictable. She had no social or cultural life, and would play her piano for hours, and gradually became housebound, because she could not be trusted to go to town alone. Truman idolized Mr. Lee, who presented him with a pocket dictionary he prized for years. However, he satirized Nelle’s mother in a story he wrote in sixth grade, “Mrs. Busybody.” Years later, on a popular radio program, Truman Capote told the audience that Mrs. Lee tried to drown Nelle in the bathtub twice when she was two years old, and she was rescued by her older sisters. This may be why Scout recalls that her mother died when she was two, “so I never felt her absence.” Truman and Nelle were five years old when they began playing together. “Beautiful things floated around in his dreamy head,” she wrote of him, when he became Dill, the boy next door in TKAM. He was dressed in fanciful clothing from expensive stores, in a school where children wore patched hand-me-downs. It was the 1930s, the Great Depression, after all. He had the misfortune of having the worst thing that could possibly happen to a child happen to him: his parents didn’t care about him, and they didn’t care if he knew. His parents were beautiful people who loved the high life, and he was given to his maiden aunts and bachelor uncle, all middle-aged or elderly, to raise. The female Huckleberry Finn and the sissy were an odd couple, but the two friends were inseparable, and Nelle was Truman’s steadfast protector. Ultimately the story of Lee’s childhood and relationship with Capote is a fascinating one. It is well worth the read for youths enraptured by her solitary opus, who want to know more about Nelle Harper Lee, the woman who ensured that generations of high school students will never forget that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I picked this up without realizing it was the "young readers'" version of Shields' biography of Lee, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Childhood to Go Set a Watchman. I'm not sure if that's why, but sometimes it feels like it's just skimming the surface. A lot of the book is devoted to Truman Capote and In Cold Blood. I knew that Lee had been involved with that project, but I didn't realize exactly how much of her stamp is on it. And it doesn't talk at all about Go Set a Watchman and h I picked this up without realizing it was the "young readers'" version of Shields' biography of Lee, Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, from Childhood to Go Set a Watchman. I'm not sure if that's why, but sometimes it feels like it's just skimming the surface. A lot of the book is devoted to Truman Capote and In Cold Blood. I knew that Lee had been involved with that project, but I didn't realize exactly how much of her stamp is on it. And it doesn't talk at all about Go Set a Watchman and how it fits into the whole picture. It's sad to think of her struggling to get another novel out, with TKAM such a huge thing. It must have been intimidating. I may try the original, not sure. And still on the fence about reading GSAW.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

    Not until I finished did I realize this is a reworking of the book, MOCKINGBIRD that came out several years ago. Shields simply rewrote it for younger readers. I wonder what was left out...I loved the portrait of a passionate, original thinker who loves writing. It seems like her friendship with Truman Capote, and her decision to assist him with his book IN COLD BLOOD may have contributed to her never writing another book. There are hints here of a novel she worked on and a nonfiction book as we Not until I finished did I realize this is a reworking of the book, MOCKINGBIRD that came out several years ago. Shields simply rewrote it for younger readers. I wonder what was left out...I loved the portrait of a passionate, original thinker who loves writing. It seems like her friendship with Truman Capote, and her decision to assist him with his book IN COLD BLOOD may have contributed to her never writing another book. There are hints here of a novel she worked on and a nonfiction book as well. While I would have loved another book by Harper Lee, I respect her wish for privacy. It seems like the success of TKAM overwhelmed her. I loved the similarities between Nelle's life and Scout's. I loved the glimpses of Nelle trying to fit in at college, but not willing to change who she was as a person. I loved the doomed friendship with Truman, a friendship he ultimately betrayed. This book makes me want to teach TKAM. I love sharing tid-bits of gossip about the author's life when I teach. This book is full of gossipy details.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Teri

    I read this book because _To Kill a Mockingbird_ is one of my favorite books EVER, and I am excited for the release of Harper Lee's new book later this year (finally!). This was an intriguing and interesting look into the life of Harper Lee. I'd read in a variety of places that she was a recluse, but after reading this book, I'd have to say that I didn't think of her in the way that I would think of a typical recluse. I'd say she was very introverted and focused, and didn't go out much because it I read this book because _To Kill a Mockingbird_ is one of my favorite books EVER, and I am excited for the release of Harper Lee's new book later this year (finally!). This was an intriguing and interesting look into the life of Harper Lee. I'd read in a variety of places that she was a recluse, but after reading this book, I'd have to say that I didn't think of her in the way that I would think of a typical recluse. I'd say she was very introverted and focused, and didn't go out much because it didn't suit her personality or purpose. It seemed like anyone who knew Ms. Lee as she was growing up wasn't surprised that she'd not be a social butterfly, even after _Mockingbird_ was a tremendous success. I've never read anything by Truman Capote, and after reading so much about him in this book, I don't have the desire to. He seemed like a self-absorbed douchebag. I'm glad I read the book, and I can't wait for _Go Set a Watchman_!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Ard

    I'm always a little leery of biographies, wondering if they capture the truth of the subject's life. That is a particularly good question when it comes to Harper Lee, an author who after writing one of the most famous books of the 20th century never wrote another and in fact increasingly shunned the media. However Charles Shields presents a comprehensive look at Lee's life through extensive reading (according to the bibliography); interviews with neighbors, family and friends; and on-the-record I'm always a little leery of biographies, wondering if they capture the truth of the subject's life. That is a particularly good question when it comes to Harper Lee, an author who after writing one of the most famous books of the 20th century never wrote another and in fact increasingly shunned the media. However Charles Shields presents a comprehensive look at Lee's life through extensive reading (according to the bibliography); interviews with neighbors, family and friends; and on-the-record statements. Shields begins with a brief account of Lee's parents and how their personalities impacted her childhoods. We meet the young Truman Capote, her neighbor and friend. The personalities within her hometown in Alabama are explored, and rightly so, as they portrayed within her monumental book 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. The relationship between Nelle Harper Lee and Truman Capote is extensively explored, through their early years, his early successes as a writer, Lee's eventual success and their collaboration in investigating the murders made famous in Capote's 'In Cold Blood'. The rumors of Capote helping Lee to write 'To Kill a Mockingbird' are addressed. The rivalry and jealousy between the two is suggested. Why Lee never wrote again and why she increasingly faded into the background (or tried to) is discussed. Shields presents a comprehensive look at the facts and the suppositions around this great American author. Writers will appreciate the details about Lee's relationship with her NY publisher. Long ago are the days when an unknown writer could sit down and chat about their book idea with a room full of publishers, work hand in hand to revise and edit their work over many years and then receive uncommon publicity to promote their work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    Interesting read, I knew very little of Harper Lee and enjoyed reading about her challenges in school here and abroad and living in NYC, writing and what was involved in making the movie with Gregory Peck. I did not know that the boy "Dill" in TKAM was Truman Capote and what an awful friend he was by telling others that he wrote part of TKAM and later Harper co-wrote In Cold Blood with Truman, but he claimed he wrote it all, and dedicated the book to her after he first dedicated it to his lover, Interesting read, I knew very little of Harper Lee and enjoyed reading about her challenges in school here and abroad and living in NYC, writing and what was involved in making the movie with Gregory Peck. I did not know that the boy "Dill" in TKAM was Truman Capote and what an awful friend he was by telling others that he wrote part of TKAM and later Harper co-wrote In Cold Blood with Truman, but he claimed he wrote it all, and dedicated the book to her after he first dedicated it to his lover, Jack Dunphy. IMO that could be why she never published another book. What would you do if your long time friend literally stole your work and claimed it was his writing?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Wendy E.

    I am not in love with TKAM, but I really enjoyed this biography. The bits about Capote were also interesting. Now I will have to read In Cold Blood. Shields addresses and debunks a few myths which the English major in me truly enjoyed.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Desteny

    Book Review on I am Scout The Author to this book I am Scout is Charles J. Shields. The book I am Scout was revised in the year of 2008-2016. In the year 1979 Charles J. Shields become a highschool teacher. He became a ELA teacher because he loved to write books and read to high schoolers and he also loved to teach. He was happy when he got the job to teach high schoolers. Scouts dad has been there with her her whole life. Her brother Jem has been there for her also. They both help her with a lot Book Review on I am Scout The Author to this book I am Scout is Charles J. Shields. The book I am Scout was revised in the year of 2008-2016. In the year 1979 Charles J. Shields become a highschool teacher. He became a ELA teacher because he loved to write books and read to high schoolers and he also loved to teach. He was happy when he got the job to teach high schoolers. Scouts dad has been there with her her whole life. Her brother Jem has been there for her also. They both help her with a lot. They all help each other with things also. Scout also has a helper at their house that helps her dad take care of them. She has to clean up their house also and she has to do all the work and all of the cooking for them. The genre to this book I am Scout is Biography. Someone is telling Scouts story. I am Scout is a true story that Charles J. Shields wrote. This book is a story that goes with To Kill a Mockingbird. This book talks about Scout's life and what she does in life and how she fixes her problems in life. Scout always keep trying she would never give up on anything even if she wanted to she would just keep trying. The main character in I am Scout is Scout. She is a girl that goes to school and she has to wear dresses there at school. My favorite character in this book is Scout because she is the main character of this book. I am scout is another story To Kill a Mockingbird. They have high school english classrooms. To kill a mockingbird is a novel just like the book I am scout. This book gives me a lot of information about it. It is a really good interesting story. If scout has a problem she knows how to fix it herself she never gives up on fixing her problems. The reason why I like the book I am scout is because I also read the book to kill a mockingbird and it is a really good book also. This book is just like some books. It is a good book and it's really interesting. It is just like To Kill a Mockingbird because they talk about that book a lot in I am scout. That is why I like this book. I would give this 4 stars because there is another book about Scout. The book is called To Kill a Mockingbird. It is one of my favorite books. I would want my English Teacher to read I am Scout because she read the book To Kill a Mockingbird, before and I think that she would really like it. To Kill a Mockingbird is a really good book just like the book I am Scout. I would also want to read this book again because Scout is my favorite character in To Kill a Mockingbird.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charley

    As a huge fan of To Kill A Mockingbird, I was thrilled to come across this biography at my local library. I thoroughly enjoyed the inside scoop of the life of the author of my favorite novel. I was excited to learn more about her and even have a clearer vision of what I already knew. It was very well done and I am glad to have had the chance to read it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    I think I would have liked it if it were more narrative. a little too cut and dry for my taste -irony? still very interesting. was very excited to read it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jackie "the Librarian"

    This is a careful and respectful biography of Nelle Harper Lee that skims the surface of her personal life. This will be useful to teens doing a report on Lee, or anyone interested in the background of To Kill a Mockingbird. It's fast and readable with lots of white space, and short chapters that give you plenty of facts, but just the facts you would need for a report. Adults, look elsewhere for deep insight and personal details. Nelle Harper Lee grew up in a small town in Alabama, where she ido This is a careful and respectful biography of Nelle Harper Lee that skims the surface of her personal life. This will be useful to teens doing a report on Lee, or anyone interested in the background of To Kill a Mockingbird. It's fast and readable with lots of white space, and short chapters that give you plenty of facts, but just the facts you would need for a report. Adults, look elsewhere for deep insight and personal details. Nelle Harper Lee grew up in a small town in Alabama, where she idolized her father, who became the model for Atticus Finch, and was best friends with her cousin Truman Capote, who is the character Dill in Mockingbird. Lee, herself, is Scout. Both Nelle and Truman were misfits, both felt like they didn't meet their mothers' approval. Nelle was a tomboy, Truman effeminate. They both loved to write. They bonded over the stories they wrote about the characters they saw in their small town. In college, Lee didn't fit in with the other girls, and instead of dates and dances, became the editor of the college humor magazine, the Rammer-Jammer. She started studying law while still a junior, but hated it. Despite her admiration of both her father and her older sister, Alice, who both had law degrees, Lee just wanted to write. She dropped out rather than finish her last semester, because she dreaded taking the boards. She moved to New York City, and wrote every night. Assisted by friends, she was able to quit her job with the BOAC and just write. With the help of her editor, she completed To Kill a Mockingbird, based on her childhood in Monroeville, and the case her father lost defending two black men in court. While waiting for the galleys, she accompanied Truman Capote out to Kansas, where the murder of a family had shocked the community. Her warmth and normality opened doors for Truman, as did her extensive notes. She was his assistant researchist, whose help with research and writing In Cold Blood made the book a reality, although he never gave her credit. I think he was punishing her for winning the Pulitzer and becoming more famous than he was. Lee's first and last novel was To Kill a Mockingbird, which became a best-seller, won the Pulitzer for fiction, and was made into an Oscar-winning movie starring Gregory Peck. The fame and attention she received from the book overwhelmed her, and ten years after Mockingbird she stopped giving interviews. She kept writing, but faced with trying to write something after that first, amazing success, never published anything. Eventually she just "forgave herself" and retired to a quiet, private life. She had a small circle of friends, and never married. She is now in her 80s, and lives with her sister Alice in Monroeville, Alabama. Illustrated with not quite enough photos. Index, bibliography.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wolf S

    Wolf S. 12/1/14 "I am Scout" is the bibliography of Harper E. Lee by Charles J. Shields. The biography is about Harper's life (go figure) before, during, and after she wrote the instant classic To "Kill a Mockingbird". The biography is mainly about Nelle's (Harper's real name) character, instead of what she did when. The actions and what she does is inputted mainly to reenforce her character, instead of explain what she did when. Everything about this biography is interesting from the explanatio Wolf S. 12/1/14 "I am Scout" is the bibliography of Harper E. Lee by Charles J. Shields. The biography is about Harper's life (go figure) before, during, and after she wrote the instant classic To "Kill a Mockingbird". The biography is mainly about Nelle's (Harper's real name) character, instead of what she did when. The actions and what she does is inputted mainly to reenforce her character, instead of explain what she did when. Everything about this biography is interesting from the explanation on why she published the book under the name Harper instead of Nelle (pronounced Nell) to how she disliked the fame of "To Kill a Mockingbird". Nelle's personality is the major idea of this bibliography. It quickly explains that Nelle was more rebellious against gender expectations and later quiet and reserved, which is easily noted in lines like that she 'was often holed up, either in her room or at the library studying.' (pg. 58). The book also delves into her relationship with a friend named Truman Capote, who published the book "In Cold Blood", who was 'written out of the book'(pg. 188), even though she played a major part in gaining the trust of those they interviewed and writing half the book. Truman's lame move extends to the fact that he would not deny the conspiracy theory that HE wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, which is absolutely disgusting and shows his hunger for fame and fortune. The author does do Truman justice, however, by explaining his terrible childhood (his parents divorced) and his drug and alcohol problems. The author clearly shows how Nelle felt towards Truman, and how she 'was always protective of Capote'(pg. 154). This bibliography was a great read that was equally fascinating as it is informative.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Belinda

    I loved this book. It's really hard to find good and lengthy information on Harper Lee...saying she is a recluse is a bit of an understatement. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book ever. I read it and re-read it often--it helps me when I am hating the world and it's inhabitants. The clear and honest voice of Scout throughout the book helps me to feel clean again--to see things as a child--which we all need to do. This book has a great concept--it uses both research and Ms. Lee's words and I loved this book. It's really hard to find good and lengthy information on Harper Lee...saying she is a recluse is a bit of an understatement. To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book ever. I read it and re-read it often--it helps me when I am hating the world and it's inhabitants. The clear and honest voice of Scout throughout the book helps me to feel clean again--to see things as a child--which we all need to do. This book has a great concept--it uses both research and Ms. Lee's words and the words of her friends and family to build a really fascinating portrait of this amazing woman. I think like most people I have often wondered how someone who could turn out a book like that would not have continued to write and publish. This book does a great job of explaining that and the reasons are much as I had believed. It's really interesting to learn the background of the characters in the book and the folks they were based on. It also touches on Ms. Lee's relationship with Truman Capote, another of my favorite writers in an interesting fashion, not only discussing them growing up together but her reaction to his decline and fall and how their relationship was during these years and her reaction to his behavior towards his friends in his last years. Overall, I walked away loving her as a writer, loving her as a person and being inspired by her commitment to being herself in a world full of expectations.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    Melinda Dye - Biography "I Am Scout" chronicles the life of American writer Harper Lee. Growing up in poor, rural Monroeville, Alabama, Nelle Harper Lee was obviously different from her more genteel classmates; brash, opinionated, and not the ladylike creature she was expected to be. This book shares many facets of her life, from the businesslike courtship of her parents, her mother's mental illness, her struggles to find her place in college, and her disenchantment with law school. It also cover Melinda Dye - Biography "I Am Scout" chronicles the life of American writer Harper Lee. Growing up in poor, rural Monroeville, Alabama, Nelle Harper Lee was obviously different from her more genteel classmates; brash, opinionated, and not the ladylike creature she was expected to be. This book shares many facets of her life, from the businesslike courtship of her parents, her mother's mental illness, her struggles to find her place in college, and her disenchantment with law school. It also covers in depth her longtime friendship with Truman Capote, from playing together constantly as children, to her (uncredited) assistance on Capote's "In Cold Blood," to his jealousy over her win of the Pulitzer Prize he thought should be his, and their subsequent estrangement. And, of course, it covers the years she spent writing her true American classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird," and the writing and filming of the seminal movie. I really enjoyed this book; there was so much information on Harper Lee's life, and how incredibly smart and driven she was. For example, I never knew she worked for an airline; that Truman Capote only got most of his information for "In Cold Blood" due to her smoothing the way with the local townsfolk; and that she spent one of the happiest times of her life at Oxford, tracing the steps and visiting the places mentioned by some of her favorite authors. A great read for a biography fan!!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Allie Randall

    Genre/Category: biography/non-fiction Read for "non-fiction" requirement Summary: Charles J. Shields tells the life story of reclusive Nelle Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the greatest novels ever written. Shields presents us with Nelle's background, describing her personality, her family life, and perhaps most importantly, the connections between her personal life and her only novel. Lee's life is marked with excitement and sadness, which make for an intriguing biography t Genre/Category: biography/non-fiction Read for "non-fiction" requirement Summary: Charles J. Shields tells the life story of reclusive Nelle Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird, one of the greatest novels ever written. Shields presents us with Nelle's background, describing her personality, her family life, and perhaps most importantly, the connections between her personal life and her only novel. Lee's life is marked with excitement and sadness, which make for an intriguing biography that keeps the pages turning. Full of quotes and anecdotes, the book really reveals Lee's inner life touching on issues of her mother's mental illnesses, her best friend's betrayal, and her reasons for never writing another book. I was shocked at some parts of the book, felt immense pity for Lee, soared with her in her successes, and ultimately felt like I knew Harper Lee by the time the book was done. Well-written and engaging, Shields has provided an excellent resource for understanding To Kill A Mockingbird and fabulous insight for one of the greatest authors of modern time. The interesting stories could really interest young adult readers who need some background on the book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Wright

    I am Scout is a fascinating and well-written biography of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The connection it shows between author and her work compliment each book and captured the interest and imagination. It is exciting to know that Scout lived, and refreshing to read about the success of one determined,non-conforming, clear-sighted, spunky young writer. The book details events through Lee's life from early childhood to her years as an older woman at peace with herself, all th I am Scout is a fascinating and well-written biography of Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird. The connection it shows between author and her work compliment each book and captured the interest and imagination. It is exciting to know that Scout lived, and refreshing to read about the success of one determined,non-conforming, clear-sighted, spunky young writer. The book details events through Lee's life from early childhood to her years as an older woman at peace with herself, all the while drawing connections from the events and people which influenced her to her magnum opus. It shows how her early life affected the work, how the work affected her, and how the work affected her family and community. Overall, I would highly recommend this biography as a companion to Lee's novel. It added depth and a new dimension of interest to an already fascinating tale, while inspiring the reader with respect for determination leading to achievement, and a thirst for that sort ability to remain true to oneself which Nelle Harper Lee embodies.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chae

    "I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee" by Charles J. Shields did not captivate me as I thought it would. The biography evidently tells the life story of Harper Lee, which may be interesting if you are fascinated by her life, but otherwise, it was rather tedious(in my opinion, of course.) The biography takes place in Alabama, where the story of "To Kill a Mockingbird" takes place as well. The novel explains the parallels between Harper Lee's prominent novel and her own life. Charles J. Shiel "I am Scout: The Biography of Harper Lee" by Charles J. Shields did not captivate me as I thought it would. The biography evidently tells the life story of Harper Lee, which may be interesting if you are fascinated by her life, but otherwise, it was rather tedious(in my opinion, of course.) The biography takes place in Alabama, where the story of "To Kill a Mockingbird" takes place as well. The novel explains the parallels between Harper Lee's prominent novel and her own life. Charles J. Shields explains that Harper Lee was a typical tomboy who would rather play rough games than braid her hair and have sleepover with other girls. This can definitely be seen through Scout in "To Kill a Mockingbird." This biography is interesting, and I recommend reading it before or after reading "To Kill a Mockingbird" for a better understanding of her novel or her life. However, it didn't draw me in as I hoped it would.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Angela Bailey

    Title / Author / Publication Date: I am Scout: The biography of Harper Lee. / Charles J. Shields. / 2008. Genre: Young Adult - Nonfiction: Biography. Format: Book - print. 212 pages. Plot summary: "The author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee adapts his best-selling title to bring to young readers the life of the unconventional, high-spirited woman who wrote one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird" (NoveList). Considerations or precautions for readers advisory: American a Title / Author / Publication Date: I am Scout: The biography of Harper Lee. / Charles J. Shields. / 2008. Genre: Young Adult - Nonfiction: Biography. Format: Book - print. 212 pages. Plot summary: "The author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee adapts his best-selling title to bring to young readers the life of the unconventional, high-spirited woman who wrote one of the greatest novels of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird" (NoveList). Considerations or precautions for readers advisory: American authors, Harper Lee, successful women writers in the 1950's, friendship Review citation: "The text does an excellent job of conveying the facets of Lee's personality that made her a writing success, including her honesty, tenacity, sense of justice and adaptability of interpersonal style" (Kirkus Reviews). Section source used to find the material: YALSA: 2009 Best Books for Young Adults Recommended age: Ages 13 - 18.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lyndee

    This is a biography of Harper Lee, the writer of "To Kill a Mockingbird". The author begins by briefly talking about Harper Lee's parents and what they were like, then it chronicles the rest of her life. Harper Lee wrote one novel. She thought that it would be ok and that no one would really like it. It caught like wildfire, winning a Pultizer Prize. The fame of this book was more than Lee expected. If you are into biographies, then you will love this book. Harper Lee was a recluse by nature and This is a biography of Harper Lee, the writer of "To Kill a Mockingbird". The author begins by briefly talking about Harper Lee's parents and what they were like, then it chronicles the rest of her life. Harper Lee wrote one novel. She thought that it would be ok and that no one would really like it. It caught like wildfire, winning a Pultizer Prize. The fame of this book was more than Lee expected. If you are into biographies, then you will love this book. Harper Lee was a recluse by nature and it is extremely interesting to hear about her life. Reading her biography has made me wish that she had been able to write more. Read this book! I, seriously, couldn't put it down.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danny Regan

    An excellent and thoughtful book. It manages to show the childhood of Harper lee without saying "THIS IS SOMETHING THAT WAS ALSO IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD" the whole damn time. I also like how it shows how to kill a mockingbirds success impacted her. She was of course working on another book, but the success became so overwhelming that she couldn't focus on it. Highly recommend the book

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beth Pier

    I enjoyed both To Kill A Mockingbird & Go Set A Watchman immensely - so - I was anxious to learn more about Harper Lee's life and perhaps how it shaped these books. I feel like the author spent far too much time saying the same thing - over and over.... And over..... I enjoyed both To Kill A Mockingbird & Go Set A Watchman immensely - so - I was anxious to learn more about Harper Lee's life and perhaps how it shaped these books. I feel like the author spent far too much time saying the same thing - over and over.... And over.....

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terri Stapleton

    Love seeing the connections between her history and Scout's. Great bio for middle school, even high schoolers readers to check out as companion piece to the novel.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Maya King

    For my next book, I took on my Non-fiction requirement for the semester. And I found that "I am Scout", by Charles Shields, proved to be a great choice for this. The biography follows the life of Southerner Nelle "Harper" Lee, who wrote the book "To Kill a Mockingbird". We get to see how Nelle evolves from a tomboy who grew up in a small town to a young woman who finds her stride in writing. In addition, we get to see how the people in her life are similar to the characters in her book. For inst For my next book, I took on my Non-fiction requirement for the semester. And I found that "I am Scout", by Charles Shields, proved to be a great choice for this. The biography follows the life of Southerner Nelle "Harper" Lee, who wrote the book "To Kill a Mockingbird". We get to see how Nelle evolves from a tomboy who grew up in a small town to a young woman who finds her stride in writing. In addition, we get to see how the people in her life are similar to the characters in her book. For instance, she was raised as a girl who was treated like an adult from her attorney father, A.C. Lee, which resembles the relationship between a young Scout and her father Atticus. In addition, we meet Truman, who resembles Dill, and a few others who paved the way for characters in this Southern novel. And as Nelle gets older, she finds her love of books with Truman, leading her to follow her dream to write despite her family's wishes. We get to see her life in school, where she doesn't fit in for her boyish attitudes, to her time in New York writing the book, to the time where she is pressured by those around her to live up to the book's legacy. While this book had good and bad effects on her life, she shows all throughout her journey that she really is Scout. And that was just enough. Truthfully I thought this book was pretty good, but I just don't like non-fiction books. I could even go on to say that if this wasn't a requirement, I wouldn't go out to read this story. But since it was necessary, I thought that this was a good non-fiction biography for me. You get to see how Nelle changes throughout the book, and how she is a really unique person. I honestly liked that, and it seemed nice for us to watch someone who didn't wear makeup or flirt in the 50's, or who sang nineteenth-century songs. And while those facts seem a bit out there, that was the thing about Nelle, she was a very out there type of person. But while Nelle seemed fun and pure in her journey, others weren't. Seeing people like the nosy, self-centered Truman and other more boring people slowed the book down. I know that this is supposed to be about her life story, but having every single person who ever met her in there was a bit overkill. You couldn't tell who everyone was and it confused me. Not to mention that there was a really boring ending after "To Kill a Mockingbird" is released. But all in all, this was a very nice book with a very nice leading lady that paved the way for many writers. There are a few people I would recommend this to. One, those who have read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and really enjoyed it. Two, those who like biographies that involve a really interesting feminist like Nelle. She was truly the heart of the book just as Scout and Atticus were to Nelle's novel. This book also allowed you to see the connections between her life and her own written story, which is both something to recommend to those people, and the reason why she truly is Scout.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Adele

    The author did his research and uses quotes from many sources to tell the story of Nelle Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. Its crazy how successful that book immediately was and continues to be. They read it in Joe Green's seventh-grade English class at Latin. I have loved it every time that I have read it. One of the few books I have read more than once. Loved the movie too. Made me admire people who do the right thing when it is not easy. To this day I think of To Kill a Mocking The author did his research and uses quotes from many sources to tell the story of Nelle Harper Lee, the writer of To Kill a Mockingbird. Its crazy how successful that book immediately was and continues to be. They read it in Joe Green's seventh-grade English class at Latin. I have loved it every time that I have read it. One of the few books I have read more than once. Loved the movie too. Made me admire people who do the right thing when it is not easy. To this day I think of To Kill a Mockingbird as my first lesson in empathy. Liked reading this book the same way I like reading People magazine, to find out what goes on between famous people. Truman Capote seems like such a sad person. He did not acknowledge the key role Nelle played in his book In Cold Blood. I have never read that. Guess I should. She was such a good friend to him from their childhood on and he just betrayed their friendship. I read the YA version cuz I found it at Tenley on display. Probably should have read the adult version Mockingbird. Learned a few things. She really worked hard with her editor to create a novel from her vignettes. That means she was tough-skinned enough to take criticism and respond to it. Think I was really drawn to Scout because she did so many things that I would have liked to do-being a tomboy, not fussing about her appearance, not being controlled by her mom. Never wanted to cuss tho. Must have been hard growing up with her mom who was probably just so bored with the house wife life. I had forgotten that in the Mockingbird, their maid's name was Calpurnia. Might be a sub-conscious connection I made when I read and loved The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate-another feminist malcontent.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Yarwood

    We’re all thinking the same thing; how can you write a biography about a renowned hermit? Charles J Shields will show you how in this YA book about the life of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. Of course, Harper Lee wasn’t always a hermit. Shields uses source materials from her early years - speaking to classmates, rifling through articles from her school papers and leaning heavily on her relationship with Truman Capote. Shields deftly recreates their joint investigation into a grisly We’re all thinking the same thing; how can you write a biography about a renowned hermit? Charles J Shields will show you how in this YA book about the life of Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. Of course, Harper Lee wasn’t always a hermit. Shields uses source materials from her early years - speaking to classmates, rifling through articles from her school papers and leaning heavily on her relationship with Truman Capote. Shields deftly recreates their joint investigation into a grisly murder of a family in Holcomb, Kansas. This led to the publication of In True Blood - a novel just as famous, though not as loved, as To Kill A Mockingbird. Which possibly reflects the personalities of Truman and Nelle (Harper Lee). We also get to relive the making of the adored film adaptation, starring Gregory Peck. It is interesting to see how his strong personality moulded the editing of the film to present Atticus as the star over the children. Of course, as Nelle’s much anticipated second novel looked less and less likely to appear, she began to retreat and Shields is left with less to work with. But we benefit from the tale of Monroeville (inspiration for her story) and how it developed through the decades. There are ‘sightings’ and despite living a long time in New York, it is charming to know that Nelle returned to her childhood town to live out her days with her sister. I really enjoyed this book, it’s well written and the histories it recreated linger in your mind. It adds further richness to the classic tale. The source material is plentiful and I think any lover of To Kill A Mockingbird will love this book too.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ekaterina Kareli

    What I like about Nelle Harper Lee (in addition to the fact that she gave birth to one of my favourite books ever) is that she was, positively, a total weirdo. She had never sought to be rich and famous and lived a quiet, peaceful life in her hometown in Alabama, carefully protecting her privacy. For Charles Shields, it had set the bar sky-high, as writing a decent biography of such a distant person always seems like a tough challenge. In this regard, he has done a great job. He has fuelled the What I like about Nelle Harper Lee (in addition to the fact that she gave birth to one of my favourite books ever) is that she was, positively, a total weirdo. She had never sought to be rich and famous and lived a quiet, peaceful life in her hometown in Alabama, carefully protecting her privacy. For Charles Shields, it had set the bar sky-high, as writing a decent biography of such a distant person always seems like a tough challenge. In this regard, he has done a great job. He has fuelled the book with plenty of tiny cute facts and of course, has placed some really nice pictures - I can't thank him more for that. But generally speaking, it has come out to be not so gripping and it seems that the author has his personal animus toward Truman Capote as he didn't miss a chance to nettle him every 20 pages. There will not be any gainsaying here, I am not an expert on Capote's life and legacy but I am sure Nelle would send to hell anyone who is mean to her friends. Because she is a real scout.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    Shields presents a captivating look at Harper Lee’s life before, during, and after the blockbuster success of To Kill a Mockingbird. Written for a YA audience, but appealing to any audience, this biography is an engaging, well-crafted look at a fascinating woman and her associations with family, community, friends, and fans. Shields includes many anecdotes (researched and footnoted) that this fan of Lee and her novel has never encountered before. Every secondary school should have this book in t Shields presents a captivating look at Harper Lee’s life before, during, and after the blockbuster success of To Kill a Mockingbird. Written for a YA audience, but appealing to any audience, this biography is an engaging, well-crafted look at a fascinating woman and her associations with family, community, friends, and fans. Shields includes many anecdotes (researched and footnoted) that this fan of Lee and her novel has never encountered before. Every secondary school should have this book in their library; every teacher of Mockingbird needs to be familiar with this text and encourage students to read it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    Well written and well researched. The writer does a good job of debunking some rumors and myths, and using some creditable sources. Information is delivered well, more as a story than a lecture. Not dry at all. Especially good at relating the real and the fiction and where the two divide. Once I found the book again, it was a quick read!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Big fan of To Kill A Mockingbird and this book was a wonderful insight into Harper Lee's life as a child through adulthood and the fame that took over her life swiftly. An added plus was that this book has a similar tone/voice as her novel so it was enjoyable from that aspect too. Just ordered Mockingbird by this same author.

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