Saturday, April 11, 2009

"The place might need to change once in a while, but the part that was the same was the three of us. Together."

When your parents name you Harper Lee, you have a lot to live up to, straight from birth. Fortunately, Harper Lee Morgan loves to write poetry and the words of her poems form themselves in her head, begging to be written on paper. In Also Known As Harper, Harper's family is going through hard times. After her father leaves, the family is evicted from their rental home and forced to find shelter in a local motel. At the motel, Harper and her brother Hemingway meet other families who are also struggling. In fact, many of the families live in a tent city in the woods. While Harper's mother tries to find employment, she is forced to stay home from school with her brother, missing the school's poetry contest, which she is sure she can win this year.

In her debut novel, Ann Haywood Leal brings to light the invisible homeless who are amongst us every day. People who work hard, but aren't able to save enough money to keep themselves off the streets. As Harper's mother explains, "Houses and apartments cost money. You need first and last months' rent and a damage deposit, right up front. And you need deposits for the electric company and the phone company." However, Leal also displays the humanity of those who help the homeless, offering showers, sharing what they have, and how they often rely on kindness and one another to keep their secrets safe. Also Known As Harper will be published May 26, 2009.

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