Real Courage: The Story of Harper Lee
By Katherine Don
(Morgan Reynolds, 2013, Greensboro, North Carolina, $ 28.95 )
Harper Lee has only published one novel in her lifetime, but that book has influenced countless Americans, especially schoolchildren, since its 1960 publication. In Real Courage, Katherine Don tells the story of the woman who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Don explores the novel’s historical contexts, weaving her account of Lee’s life with discussion of the era’s political and artistic currents. The young adult biography also considers the people and places who inspired Mockingbird: in a gripping opening chapter, readers enter the sleepy Alabama town where Lee grew up and meet her father A.C. Lee, a local lawyer. In a scene worthy of the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, Mr. Lee quietly defends a vulnerable man from bullies. This chapter is an ideal introduction to Lee’s convictions, just as Don’s nuanced biography is a thoughtful introduction to the woman herself.