"It was one of those memorable pieces of literary fiction that came along at an impressionable time in my life, and also in the country’s life," Brokaw writes. "Dr. King had already started the movement at that point, we were paying attention on national television every night on the network news to what was going on in the South, and this book spoke to us." He recalls still being in college when Harper Lee's novel came out in 1960 and how the "book just ricocheted around the country." But, even apart from it's political importance, the book spoke to him in very personal ways, too. Here, an excerpt:
One of my very favorite passages in the book is a small one, but I’ve always loved the literary construct of it. We have the mysterious figure, Boo, who’s living next door. And then of course there’s the climactic episode: Jem is in bed, he’s been hurt, beaten up. What’s going to happen to him? And Scout goes in to see her brother. And there standing in the shadows is this mysterious neighbor. And she turns and says, “Hey, Boo.”
I just love that moment. It’s such a personal connection, and she’s absolutely unafraid of him, which is what I love. And again, to go back to the small-town culture, every town has a Boo. People don’t know how to approach Boo in those small towns, in most instances. Scout did. I have used that phrase countless times in my own life; when I want to get someone’s attention, I’ll say, “Hey, Boo.”
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