Dear Harper Lee

This is my well-loved copy of To Kill A Mockingbird (complete with bird tattoo).
To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most amazing pieces of literature I have ever read and continue to read. I was introduced to To Kill a Mockingbird by my eighth grade English teacher, Mrs. Steffen (who loved to use acronyms and called this book TKAM). Individually, I thought this book was amazing. I particularly enjoyed Mrs. Steffen’s teaching about this book because she helped me to better understand the story from the very beginning.
Dear Harper Lee,
You changed my life. I have learned countless lessons from you, both in your work and your way of life. Your desire for positive changes in the world continues to inspire me. I will always remember how you stood up for what you believed in despite the world seeing it differently. You taught the women of the world to nurture themselves first and figure who they wanted to be. I admire how you never felt it necessary to gloat or talk unnecessarily. Your strong way of holding yourself is something I desire to achieve in my lifetime. Additionally, your book has been an invaluable piece of shaping me into who I am today, to which I am eternally grateful. I cannot count the ways To Kill a Mockingbird has educated me about life.
You have created a realistic world to which I can reference no matter how tragic the current world seems. In Maycomb, I can always count on Scout and Atticus to point me in the right direction. My own morality was impacted by this story, educating me about what it truly means to be brave. You taught me that bravery is not charging into battle with your own army, but rather walking into a court room knowing you will lose and still trying your damnedest. Bravery is small, everyday acts. Bravery is knowing you will fail but trying anyway. Bravery is accepting that other people may not understand you. Bravery is allowing other people to make their own understanding of your life and not bothering to correct them. Bravery is fighting like hell to overcome addiction. Bravery is not changing who you are because other people are saying you should.
Harper, you taught me to see the best in everyone. You taught me to appreciate thinking differently from others. You taught me that just because society has one opinion on something doesn’t mean it’s the right opinion. You taught me to take note of cultural context. You taught me to never underestimate the power of compassion. You taught me everyone has some level of humanity, no matter hidden it may be. You taught me how to cope with losing and loss. You taught me doing things differently can make a dramatic impact. You taught me sometimes breaking traditions is the best new traditions. You taught me to challenge the status quo. You taught me intrinsic motivation is always superior to external forces. You taught me to see things from the other person’s perspective. And you taught me to seek out banned books because they often have the most important messages.
Many of the characters taught me specific lessons. Walter Cunningham and his father taught me that there are more important things in life than money. People can always come up with new ways to make money but your honor and integrity can wilt. I’d rather be rich in character than monetary wealth. Mrs. Dubose taught me the true definition of courage. The sheriff taught me to protect the innocent, especially if there is no one else who is doing it. Mr. Raymond taught me there will always be people that don’t understand and often it’s easier for everyone to just let them believe. He also taught me there is no wrong way to be yourself. Ms. Maudie taught me to always look for the silver lining. She also taught me the importance of educating the younger generations on ethical behavior and morality.
Mayella taught me that everyone deserves respect and companionship. Her father taught me that some people will do anything to maintain their pride. Calpurnia taught me how to be a fierce caretaker. Cal also taught me about the woman’s second shift and how hard a single parent works. Not only did she raise four of her own children, she raised Scout and Atticus with amazing success. Mr. Deas taught me that everyone should be given a second chance.
Atticus is someone I wish I had in my life. Atticus taught me how to validate others feelings and concerns. He taught me acceptance and morality. Atticus taught me that it is not necessary to boast. Atticus taught me an intelligent argument carries more weight than a physical fight. Atticus taught me how to educate others in a way they are accepting of new ideas and clarify the way the world is. Atticus taught me not to accept the way the world is and instead make an effort to change it. Atticus taught me family is important but they’re not always right. Atticus taught me the importance of education. Atticus taught me to stand up for those who aren’t being protected or advocated for. Atticus showed me the strength it takes to stand up to a mob.
Scout taught me more than I will ever be able to express. Scout taught me to be open-minded and not make assumptions about people. Scout taught me to ask questions. Scout taught me to question things. Scout taught me if and when to pick a fight. Scout taught me that sometimes the best way to fight back is to not fight back. Scout taught me to be accepting. Scout taught me the importance of humanizing everyone, especially mobs. Scout taught me the many different ways to love someone. Scout showcases the changes in relationships, both with age and experience. Scout taught me to be myself despite what others say. Scout taught your family does not always want you to fight for them. Scout taught sometimes you have to fight your family. Scout taught me we create our families, too. Scout taught me girls can do anything boys can do. Scout taught me the power of friendship. Scout taught me not to be afraid of things I don’t understand. Scout taught me everything.
I genuinely appreciate everything you have done for me and for society. Thank you for challenging people to see the world for what it really is. Thank you for teaching me so many life lessons in so few chapters. Thank you for renewing my love of reading. Thank you for countless visits to Maycomb, where I was always welcomed into the Finch family. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for giving me a new part of myself.
Thank you for always being there for me.
P.S. Tell Boo “Hey.”

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