Destinee Sutton's Reviews > Also Known As Harper

Also Known As Harper by Ann Haywood Leal
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Oct 19, 09

bookshelves: tween, families, sad, writing, death, middle-grade
Recommended for: 9-13

Mock Newbery 2010

There were a lot of things I disliked about this, but let's start with the positives: it portrays homelessness in an interesting way, from the family being evicted, to living in a motel, to pitching a tent in the woods, all the while making the best of it and trying to stay together and support each other. It also features one my my favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird, heavily.

But To Kill a Mockingbird it is not. I thought Harper Lee's voice as a narrator was too flowery. It just didn't sound real. Harper Lee is a poet, and her poems are featured in the book, but honestly there isn't much difference between the language of her poetry and the way she tells the story. Both are full of Southern folksiness that sounds forced; it's like I can see the author trying to be artful, which really bugs me. I also had this problem with Crows and Cards and Return to Sender. I think I'm being extra hard on them because they're Mock Newbery books and I expect better writing.

I imagine this book is so well-received because there are so many serious issues in it: the death of a baby (no, two babies), a girl so traumatized she doesn't speak, an alcoholic father who abandons his already poverty-stricken family, the aforementioned homelessness, an old lady who's been driven a little crazy by grief, kids who can't go to school because they're poor, mothers who labor day after day but can't afford to take care of their kids, families hiding from Child Protective Services to stay together, a stinky bully of a girl named Winnie Rae. I mean, this book has more than its share of injustice in it, but it was not inspirational or fun to read. The ending was unbelievably convenient and depressing at the same time

So, yeah, not a fan.
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