Harper Lee is a fifth-grader who can remember better times. Times when Daddy was nice, didn't drink, and still lived with them. Times when Mama read to her and her younger brother Hemingway, especially Mama's own favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird, over and over. And always, Harper Lee has loved to write poetry. Simple, truthful, it has always poured out of her. Writing poetry is what she's always done in response to life, and she knows, with no arrogance or false modesty, that her poems are good.
But then came the stillbirth of a new baby, Flannery, and that was when things seemed to slip. Daddy took to drink, got mean, and left. Mama, who never finished high school, tries to support them as a cleaning woman and never quite makes ends meet. Hemingway has his waiting time outside every day, when he sits and watches for Daddy to return. And then the family is evicted, arriving home one day to find their belongings spread all over the yard