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 50th Anniversary, Harriet M. Welsch!

I wanted to write an entry about one of my favorite children’s books: Harriet the Spy.  I posted about it on Facebook as well, but I wanted to go into more details about how this book impacted me, in addition to becoming a writer.

I have to be honest, I was impacted by the movie before the book, but both played an equal role with my writing aspirations.  I first saw the movie when I was eight years old.  My mom bought the VHS tape, and I sat down and watched it.  Michelle Trachtenberg played the role of Harriet with a large amount of emotions (anger, sadness, happiness, etc.), and I laughed at the funny things and was angry when she was caught in Mrs. Plumber’s dumbwaiter.  I was sad when Ole Golly (Rosie O’Donnell) went away, and angry along with Harriet when her friends started getting revenge on her because of what she wrote about them.  I also remember feeling happy when Harriet and her friends and classmates finally made amends, and I enjoyed seeing Harriet become the editor of the sixth grade newspaper (which also inspired me to create a school newspaper at my elementary school called The Bellaire Buzz).  After I saw the movie, I got the book.  I have two copies now: an older one with Harriet as a blonde, and the one with the same cover as the VHS tape box.  I read the book over and over, even if I did not understand some of the content (i.e. dancing school, egg creams, or the word fink).  I admired the character of Harriet because she was outspoken and opinionated (even if she was a bit spoiled and immature), and she called (or wrote) everything like she saw it (in this case it was literal because she was a spy).

Through Harriet, I learned about how to be a good spy (I wore a coat and had a fanny pack full of my spy gear :-)), as well as how to be a nicer person (I knew I did not want to be mean like she was, both in real life and in her writing sometimes).  But I also learned how to keep my eyes and ears open for everything no matter what.

So thank you, Louise Fitzhugh, for creating this memorable character and for writing this book.  It has had an influence on me as an aspiring writer, as well as an amateur detective/spy.  It was also what inspired me to write many short mystery stories as a kid.