Yesterday I wrote about the loss of a middle school librarian in our town and Tom mentioned it today in his blog along with a wonderful story about Harper Lee's struggle to write To Kill a Mockingbird--if that isn't a middle school book memory nothing is.
I spent every summer of my childhood in Hopkinsville, Kentucky with my grandparents. There was nowhere I would have rather been in the whole world during those years and I can still conjure up the gentle scents and soft southern voices.
The summer between 6th and 7th grade--1971--I spent a lot of time in the notch of a tree in the front yard high above whatever chaos my brother and cousin were hatching. In my leafy hideaway, I ate delicious juicy ripe plums, played with the calico cat that would sometimes join me and read.
I read To Kill a Mockingbird 3 times that summer.
Whether or not that is why I am a lawyer today, I don't really know but I always give Harper Lee the credit.
Hopkinsville in 1971 was not exactly Maycomb, Alabama during the Depression but it wasn't hard to make the leap in my imagination. From my perch in the tree, I could see a lot of people coming and going on the road and the world just beyond my grandparents' home where the folks that worked in the big houses lived.
It would be impossible to choose a favorite part of To Kill a Mockingbird, but one part that I think about almost every day and use in my professional life is where Atticus sets himself up in a chair outside of the jail because he heard that there might be trouble. Scout, Jem and Dill sneak over in the night and see the mob approaching the jail bent on lynching Tom Robinson. Scout runs to her father and faces the mob recognizing one of the men and in her innocent and trusting conversation with him, reminds him and all of the men of who they are.
What are some of the books that shaped you?