The Mockingbird Next Door -Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills

mockingAbout the book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel’s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation—and a great friendship.

In 2004, with the Lees’ blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees’ inner circle of friends.

Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story—and the South—right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.

The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills’s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle.

Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees’ life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.

My Review: To Kill A Mockingbird was Harper Lee’s one hit best seller. I read this book in school, I still have a copy to this day. I was a bit skeptical on reading this book, just because I knew Harper wanted to be left alone and in peace. My thinking was it would be an intrusion on her life and what she wanted most, solidarity.  Marja Mills story didn’t leave me feeling it was a invasion of privacy, in fact it was just the opposite. Usually my reviews I never give my opinion, I just give some of the bits and pieces of the story and leave a few hints for readers to see if they want to read it or not. The book left me feeling of great appreciation knowing what Marja shared with us was exactly a really nice friendship that she shared with Harper and her sister. She, I’m sure did leave a lot of personal stories out, that I’m sure wouldn’t harm Harper or their friendship.

I’m really glad I listened to another author’s advice to pick up this book and read it for myself. Marja Mills, has done the best job of still leaving Harper’s life and story still intact. I know Harper Lee will always be a favorite of mine, and let me share the book To Kill A Mockingbird with my friends and family. There are many fine moments in this book that will just leave you smiling, or even a bit of tears, happy ones of course. When a book is a true story, its hard to not want to share everything. I thank Marja for the fantastic job she did with writing this book and sharing some of these memories, I know she will have for a lifetime. What a fabulous thing to be giving a friendship with Harper Lee.

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; 1st edition (July 15, 2014)

To find a copy of The Mockingbird Next Door :


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