Steph Su's Reviews > Also Known As Harper

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
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's review
Jul 01, 2009

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bookshelves: debs09
Read in December, 2009

ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER is an easy and gentle read that introduces young readers to the delicate issue of homelessness through the eyes of a thoroughly appealing protagonist.

The occasionally whimsical and melodramatic plot is anchored by Harper Lee, whose passions, vulnerabilities, and narration contain ageless appeal. She is a very well realized character, and approaches the events in her life with objectivity and fluidity: she is healthily skeptical of some scenarios, but is willing to admit that she was wrong and has a lot to learn. Her interactions with her younger brother are adorable; in fact, the sense of familial strength in ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER will make you want to give your siblings, parents, or children a big hug for just existing.

Some of the supporting characters, however, are not believable as Harper Lee, and their characterization can seem repetitive and excessive, such as the wheelchair lady’s oft-noted ability to understand Harper better than she understands herself. The resolution is hasty and therefore not as satisfying as it could be, and as I noted earlier, there is a strain of fantastical unbelievability that runs throughout the story. A lot of the situations that Harper, her brother, and her friends stumble upon feel contrived, which is unfortunate, as it detracts from the poignancy of Harper and her family’s predicament.

ALSO KNOWN AS HARPER has its amateuristic flaws, but its intentions are clear and good: it illustrates the power of essential relationships to sustain one through the worst situations. As a result, it may be a good book for adults and children to read separately and discuss together.

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Reading Progress

12/03/2009 page 142

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