Bookmarks Magazine's Reviews > Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee

Mockingbird by Charles J. Shields
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Feb 05, 2009

Charles J. Shields, who writes biographies for young adults, makes it clear with his subtitle that his book falls short of a full-scale biography. Since the 81-year-old Lee refused to aid Shields's work, he resorted to the next best option: he acquired more than 600 interviews with Lee's friends and associates as well as any correspondence he could. Many reviewers attribute the mixed success of the book to Lee's publicity bubble, but a few critics fault the biographer's imagination, and perhaps frustration, for making Mockingbird less than a pleasure to read. If he doesn't adequately delve deeply into Lee's personal life, at the very least, Mockingbird "lays a strong foundation for Lee scholarship, and turns up some marvelous ephemera" to tide scholars over (Salon).

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


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