Also Known as Harper

Also Known as Harper
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Release Date
May 26, 2009
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Harper Lee Morgan is an aspiring poet, which isn’t surprising, seeing as how she’s named after her mama’s favorite writer, Harper Lee. And life is giving her a lot to write about just now. Daddy up and walked out, leaving them broke. Then Harper’s family gets evicted. With Mama scrambling to find work, Harper has to skip school to care for her little brother, Hemingway. Their lives have been turned upside down, which Harper could just about handle—if it wasn’t for the writing contest at school. If only she could get up on that stage and read her poems out loud . . .

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The Making of Harper Lee Morgan
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Reader reviewed by Julie M. Prince

Banding together with whats left of her small family keeps
Harper Lee Morgan focused on the things that are important, but she cant let
go of the poetry that grows in her heart, nor the hope that she might someday
be able to share it with others who will appreciate it. Harpers one dream is
to enter the countys annual poetry contest.


Harpers world has shifted, though, since her verbally
abusive father has abandoned the family. Gone is the mother who used to
scribble stories at night and she has been replaced by one who must rise before
the sun and work until its long gone in order to keep her children fed. Eviction
from their home wreaks even more havoc on the Morgan family, and keeps Harper
from the one consistency she could count onschool. This also forces Harper to
become responsible for her little brother, Hemingway, as their mother tries to
scrape up enough money to keep a roof, any roof, over their heads.


Homelessness, alcoholism, and verbal abuse are not light
subjects for an author to tackle&especially in a middle grade novel. However,
author Ann Haywood Leal manages to handle them with a curious lightness and
subtle grace that is rare to run across.


Harper is wise beyond her years, yet her thoughts and
reactions are still believably childlike as she deals with an antagonistic
neighbor girl and loss of nearly all of her prized possessions.


I cannot help but appreciate the girl who makes fast friends
with another who doesnt speak a word. They communicate by the common bond of
understanding that arises from the similar circumstances of life. It must be
tricky to try to pull off a friendship that contains no dialogue, but here
again the author succeeds.


The scenes of this book are carefully navigated and its
author never loses the all-important childhood perspective of resentment or the
older sisters sense of duty and obligation. We can see and sense Harpers
frustration at the state of affairs, but she continues to take care of
Hemingway the best way she knows how. This doesnt mean shes ready to give up
her own dream, though, and readers will cheer her on as she tries to scheme her
way back to school to enter the poetry contest.

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