Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Also Known As Harper - by Ann Haywood Leal

Harper Lee Morgan and her brother, Hemingway were both named after famous writers because her mother loves stories and literature so much.  Harper's mom is a hard-working woman who does her best to take care of the kids.  Times have been hard, thought, since Harper Lee's dad left.  Even though Hemingway doesn't remember everything about Daddy, Harper does, and she doesn't really even want him to come back.  Life gets even more complicated, though, when Harper returns from school one day to find all her family's belongings sitting in the front yard.  Their house is locked shut and they are kicked out.  They sleep in their car and then get a room in a motel.  Harper's life is turned upside down.  She writes her poems as she goes through all of this, but she'll probably miss her school's big poetry reading contest because she has to stay home with Hemingway while her mother looks for work.  

This was a wonderful book about family and making it through tough times.  I enjoyed Harper Lee Morgan as a narrator very much.  She lives up to her name by being as spunky and thoughtful as the real Harper Lee's Scout.  

Harper's poems are good and I enjoyed hearing how she experienced a situation twice, once through the narration and then again in the poem.  Harper is so observant and sharp; I appreciated her views.  

Not only was Harper a good narrator, but there were other colorful characters as well.  Winnie Rae Early is the mean girl that Harper fights with.  Loraine is a young girl that doesn't talk after she lost everything in a fire.  And finally, Dorothy was a kind old lad who looked like a bag lady at first, but Harper Lee learns there's a lot more to people than what you notice on your first glance.  

I liked this book because it was real.  Some books out there are all about getting messed up on drugs and the subject matter is extreme.  Those books are good and important, but this story just seemed pure.  Harper is there for her mom and brother.  Plush, we are all hearing about economy blues and how people are losing their jobs and that is just what happens here.  

Grade:  B

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