Mockingbird Memories: RIP Harper Lee

This morning, I read on Facebook that Harper Lee passed away. At first I couldn’t believe it, and then I let the news sink in. I keep a blank page in my bullet journal to jot down anything that happens. I could think of no other quotation to write down than this one from To Kill a Mockingbird:

 

I also wanted to write about some memories I had of this iconic piece of literature. So here goes:

When I was in seventh grade in 2002, To Kill a Mockingbird was put on as a play at the Carlisle Theatre. I was not in it, but I did go to see it with my grandparents. I watched in awe as the story was brought to life by the actors and actresses onstage. But I finally read the book in eighth grade for my English class. It was unlike anything I had ever read before. Harper Lee brought the story to life through her wonderful writing. I wanted to know what happened next to the characters. I also learned a lot about not judging other people. One of my favorite quotations in the book is where Atticus tells Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…climb into his skin and walk around in it.” I try to live by this statement like Scout did. In addition to reading the novel that spring, we reenacted the trial during class. I knew that I didn’t want to play Scout, so I volunteered to play Mayella Ewell. I rehearsed my lines in the chapters and made sure I was ready. It was fun to play out the trial scenes because it brought them to life and helped us understand it better. My teacher told me later that she would never forget my performance of Mayella. After we finished reading the book, I felt like it had a big impact on me. It teaches you valuable lessons and introduces you to memorable characters. I read it again in a college English class, and it taught me even more lessons than it did in middle school.  

Thank you, Harper Lee, for your wonderful writing. I have already started reading Go Set a Watchman too. Rest in peace to a literary legend.

Happy Birthday, Judy Blume!

Today is the birthday of literary royalty!  Happy birthday, Judy Blume!  I was reflecting a lot about my love of Judy Blume books as a kid and now as an adult.  I consider them to be part of my rather large shelf of mentor texts.  I was waiting for the right time to share this, and I figure today is the day!

Thank You for Being a Friend: Judy Blume’s Colorful Characters

When I was eight years old, I met Fudge Hatcher and his brother Peter for the first time.  I had loved the television show and watched it over and over again with my sister and mom.  Then I got the entire four-book set (back in 1996, it included Otherwise Known as Shelia the Great, but Double Fudge was not written yet) at a school book fair.  I was hooked after I finished them, and wanted to read more of Judy Blume’s writing!

I met Sally J. Freedman and Shelia Tubman at age ten.  They felt like a part of me.  Like Sally, I was forever making up stories in my head about becoming a roller skating champion, a gymnast, and a swimmer, among other things.  And like Sheila, I was afraid of thunderstorms.  I still am today just like Judy Blume herself.

My mother talked to me when I was eleven about what my body would be going through as I started my period and went through puberty.  I was nervous about it, but Margaret Simon showed up just when I needed her.  She was feeling nervous too, but we got through it together with the turn of each page.

Other characters came and went as I grew up: Stephanie Hirsch, Rachel Robinson, Jill Brenner, and more.  In college, I picked up Summer Sisters and I met Caitlin Somers and Victoria “Vix” Leonard.  I enjoyed going on their summer adventures on Martha’s Vineyard and watching them grow up and go their separate ways, but they still remained true to each other.

Finally, as an adult, I got to meet a new set of characters in Judy’s newest book In the Unlikely Event.  My favorites are Miri Ammermann, her mother Rusty and Uncle Henry (I related to him because my dad is also a newspaper reporter for sporting events), and Christina Demetrious.

Thank you, Judy Blume, for creating so many colorful characters that have stayed with me throughout my life.  You will never know how much you have influenced my own writing career.

I feel very fortunate that I was able to meet you last year.  You squeezed my hand, and I felt like you were passing on good luck vibes to me.  I hope that you have a wonderful birthday and that all of your wishes come true!

  

One of my favorite Summer Sisters quotations!

  

Me with two of my favorite Judy Blume books!
 

Inspiring future generations one book at a time!