A charming tale of two misfits who bond over their shared love of storytelling, made all the more so by the fact that it's based on reality. Even though Nelle and her family have always lived in the town of Monroeville, Alabama, she's always had trouble fitting in, and can often be found wandering barefoot in overalls in search of adventure. Exotic Tru has only recently come to stay with relatives, an overdressed, undersized dandy with a wild imagination. The two start sharing Sherlock Holmes books, and before long they're hanging out at the courthouse in search of a real-life mystery to solve. When they find one, it's almost more than they bargained for.
Neri's folksy narration is relaxed and approachable, with plenty of humor and surprisingly heavy moments that sneak in and out easily. Anyone who's read To Kill a Mockingbird might recognize the characters, because many of them were based on the real people portrayed in this book. Nelle is Nelle Harper Lee, that book's author, and Tru is trailblazing writer Truman Capote. That knowledge is not at all necessary to enjoy this story, it simply makes it all the more delightful, that these two characters who connected through their love of imaginative tales went on to magnificently realize those dreams as adults. Their childhoods provided them with plenty of storytelling fodder, as "their real-life stories were outrageous and funny, sad, and all too human," as Neri writes in his acknowledgments. In his author's note, he also writes about those stories, "One rule of thumb holds true: the more outrageous and unbelievable a scene, the closer it is to real life." He's assembled those scenes into a compelling and entertaining book.
2.5 - this book was only cool because it was about Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Otherwise it's a silly "mystery" about two southern misfits getting into trouble. There is nothing unique or really interesting about it. Also, it was very similar to "To Kill a Mockingbird" which was more annoying that cool. It felt like the author was trying too hard.
A heartwarming story about two kids who don't fit but find adventure and friendship in a small town. I liked how the author used details that could have inspired To Kill a Mockingbird as part of what happened in the story.
While I love the idea of this book and do have some positive things to say about it (memorable characters- even those other than Tru and Nelle, fully drawn-out setting, touching relationships, fun mystery), it just didn't resonate with me. The events after the big reveal were not fully fleshed out, and honestly, were written in what was little more than list-format (and then... and then... and then...). I think it would have been much stronger as a shorter book (ending just after the reveal) or a longer one (expanding on the closing events). I also found a few of the characters to be stereotypical.
Before the were famous authors, Truman Capote and Harper Lee were small town kids seeking adventure and mysteries to solve. I loved this look at how their lifelong friendship got started. I found myself laughing and trying to solve mysteries along with them! I also appreciated the author's endnote, differentiating actual events from fiction. I also highly recommend the audio version! Fantastic narrator!
Two incredible authors--one incredible summer. This biographical fiction novel will leave you on the edge of your seat, trying to solve the mysteries that influenced Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.
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