Yours was one of the first novels to make me love literature. Your heroine, Scout, felt the way I often did. Her world, though a couple of decades earlier than mine and many miles south of Connecticut, introduced me to characters who felt like people living actual lives. I wanted to get through the story quickly so I could learn what happened. But time and time again, I stopped to savor a sentence, a phrase, or an image that called for my sustained attention. You held me to the page, Harper Lee. You showed me that words could and did make a difference in how I thought, what I considered, who I was. I loved your story, even though it showed me that we injure and destroy each other. Even though it taught me that love doesn’t fix everything. Thank you, Harper Lee. I have never forgotten your gift and I never will.
Mary Sharnick is the author of Orla’s Canvas (Penmore Press), as well as Thirst and Plagued (Fireship Press).