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Book Review: Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy

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Let’s be frank. If you haven’t read Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, there is no reason to read Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. And really, if you haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird, run to the bookstore or library to pick up a copy immediately.

Author Mary McDonagh Murphy begins the book by discussing the common experience millions of Americans have had by reading To Kill a Mockingbird, providing a brief history of author Harper Lee, and describing the making of its movie adaptation. While this introduction frames the impact of To Kill a Mockingbird, the interesting part of the book is the interviews with Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Tom Brokaw, Wally Lamb, Anna Quindlen, Roseanne Cash, Mary Badham, the Academy Award nominated actress for her role of Scout in the  movie, and dozens of others about Harper Lee’s classic novel. Many speculate about why Lee hasn’t given an interview since 1964 or published any works since To Kill a Mockingbird. Winfrey even approached Lee about appearing on her show, but Lee replied, “Well, honey, I already said everything that I had to say.” Others talk about the relationship between Lee and In Cold Blood author Truman Capote and the rumors that Capote wrote or helped write To Kill a Mockingbird.

While getting superstars like Brokaw and Winfrey to share their thoughts was a coup for McDonagh Murphy, to me, the interviews with people like the Reverend Thomas Lane Butts, Jane Ellen Clark, Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister, were the most fascinating pieces of the book. These individuals know Lee and share a unique perspective about the author and the impact the book has had on Lee, themselves, and Monroeville, Alabama

If you’re a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, Atticus & Boo will reaffirm your love of this American classic.

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