Tru and Nelle by G. Neri is a book about a young Harper Lee and a young Truman Capote. In this book, however, Harper Lee is known as Nelle and young Truman is Tru. I often heard that the book To Kill a Mockingbird and the characters in that book were based on the childhood friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote; this is a children’s book that fictionalizes their friendship.
Much of the book echoes To Kill a Mockingbird in the story line and the characters and an ultimate resolution. The most striking thing is that the author referenced historical records and memoirs to create this novel. We can see, then, that the truth of their childhood truly did impact Nelle Lee as she wrote her award-winning novel.
Although Tru and Nelle is children’s fiction it deals with difficult issues of race, and there is even an appearance of the Ku Klux Klan, which is quite violent. Despite that, the main characters in this book are six- and seven- year-old children. They enjoy reading Sherlock Holmes and hope to solve mysteries in their own community.
I really like the look at this fictional eyes look at Nelle Harper Lee’s childhood, and I loved the notes in the afterward that shares which parts may have come from Nelle and Truman’s real experiences. It makes me all the more interested in rereading To Kill a Mockingbird and to read Go Set a Watchman (which I have not yet read).
Those familiar with To Kill a Mockingbird or Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood might enjoy this book, but I do think it is important to remember that it is meant to be a novel for children. Due to the content of the KKK and racism, I’d suggest Tru and Nelle for those at least ages 10 and over. The reading style is easier and more accessible than To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course, it likewise is not as literary as the other. Nothing can replace Harper Lee’s classic, but Tru and Nelle is certainly an interesting alternative.
Note: I received the digital edition of this book from the publisher for review consideration.