Truman Capote (“Tru”) and Harper Lee (“Nelle”) not only penned some of the finest American literature, but as children they spent numerous summers as next-door neighbors during the Great Depression in Monroeville, Alabama. In a departure from his gritty, urban fiction, author G. Neri brings their endearing friendship to light.
When Tru, in his fancy white suits, arrives at the home of his second cousins (thrice removed) after he’s abandoned by his scheming father and self-absorbed mother, he forms a seemingly unlikely yet fierce bond with Nelle, a scruffy tomboy whose “peculiar” mother is away “getting the treatment.” Often seen as outsiders, they share a love of big words and reading Sherlock Holmes stories, and they eventually find a sense of belonging.
Basing the book on true events, Neri captures Monroeville’s small-town charm and lively characters. But Tru needs big excitement, which he finds when someone breaks into the town drugstore and smashes the windows at school. As the would-be Sherlock and Watson set out to find the culprit, they also uncover more serious problems, from poverty to racism.
The harsh realities of the time are balanced with fun nods to To Kill a Mockingbird, such as trips to the courthouse and words of wisdom from Nelle’s lawyer father, and hints of the pair’s later literary successes. A delightful tale on its own, Tru and Nelle will enchant younger readers with its introduction to these distinguished writers and older readers with their influential backstory.