Early on in the process of building the store Mark, Brandy and I sat around a table one afternoon trying to come up with a name. We all knew we wanted something literary as opposed to something cutesy or clever. We threw out a few thoughts but nothing seemed right.
I don't remember who said it first, but when the name "Mockingbird Books" came out we all smiled and said, "That's it. That's the name of our store". It fit with what we all envisioned the store to be. Spare, simple and comfortable, just like Harper's book.
As we moved towards opening, we soon discovered that Harper's book had been a touchstone for each of us. I'm sure many folks have been touched by Scout, Atticus and Tom. To Kill A Mockingbird is the great American Novel.
Harper was writing as we stood on the brink of a great awakening. That dawning recognition is reflected in Scout's growing understanding of the world she inhabits. As Scout's awareness grows so does the loss of her innocence. It's an experience that's universal.
The issues raised by Harper, how we treat our fellow man, how we respond to pain, suffering, inequality and how we deal with change are all events that are common to our human condition. Do we live and act out of fear, or is our response born of kindness and compassion? The nature of what Harper wrote is, at its essence, a meditation on grace.
Harper left us today. The tiny, serious woman who created a singular work is gone. We are all fortunate for her presence here and diminished by her loss. Yet the world of Scout she created for us can be returned to and in a way, she has become like Maycomb and Atticus and Grace: