Leal, Ann Haywood. 2009. Also Known As Harper. Henry Holt. 243 pages.
Winnie Rae Early followed ten steps behind me the entire way home from school. It was hard not to fall into rhythm with the noisy sniff she took every third step.
Harper Lee Morgan's world is about to be turned upside down. Again. This would-be-poet is a charming narrator with heart and gumption. She's the big sister of Hemingway, "Hem," a little boy who just doesn't get it. Doesn't understand that his father is gone and never coming back. Every day Harper watches Hemingway watching for her father to come up the driveway. He still listens for the sound of pickup truck. She feels just a tad guilty that she can't want him back, not like Hemingway does. She remembers the drinking, the yelling, the friction and tension that existed when he lived with them. What's going on in Harper's world? Well, their home is being foreclosed. They're facing eviction. Within a matter of days, Harper along with her mother--who works as a housekeeper/cleaner--and her brother will be homeless.
Harper is a would-be poet. Words heal her. Poetry just happens. It's more than a coping mechanism. It's a part of her very soul. To write down the world as she sees it. To write down her hopes and dreams and fears. One of her darkest memories is of her father discouraging and humiliating her. Of him refusing to sign a permission slip for her to participate in a poetry recital. It's been a year since that happened. And now the school is having the poetry recital again. But will being homeless mean another shattered dream?
Also Known As Harper is more than a story of one family. It's a story that is so much more than that. A story that introduces lovable but quirky characters all down on the luck. Also Known As Harper is a very human novel. It's multi-faceted and beautiful in its portrayal of life itself.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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