Tennessee Valley reflects on the life and legacy of Harper Lee

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – The Tennessee Valley continues to celebrate the legacy Alabamian Harper Lee has left behind. The 89-year-old, Pulitzer Prize winning author died Friday in her hometown of Monroeville.

Every year, people discover and rediscover the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. With each page turned, they take a journey with Scout and the rest of Lee’s iconic characters.

“They just all seemed to fit together,” said author of Rocket Boys, Homer Hickam. “We instantly knew who they were and we were able to say, yes I know that person and gosh I wish I’d been Scout growing up.”

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Within the binding and worn pages, books have the power to transport you to another time and create a lasting impression. Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird does just that through the characters she developed.

"It's her classic,” added Hickam. “That was the one she would always be known for, and that's one of the reasons why I think that she didn't continue to write over the years. She couldn't really top herself."

It's one of those rare books that can bridge generations and create inspiration that stays with you long after you put down the book. It's a gift Harper Lee has left the world.

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"They have problems and flaws,” said Bob Jones High School Instructional Partner, Mary Oliver. “All that was there but they were real people. I think that she created those for us to learn from."

Kristen Walz is a senior at Bob Jones High School. She’s the perfect example of how Harper's work transcends generations.

"My grandmother loves this book,” said Walz. “My mom adores the book.  She reads it every year and I was almost named Scout!"

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Published in 1960, the southern classic and Pulitzer Prize winning book is a gift Harper Lee gave the world to help us navigate the ‘blind spots’ in life.

"I would have loved to have met her,” said Walz. “That was actually one of my top three people to meet ever. It would be Harper Lee number one."

While Walz may never meet her role model, her legacy will continue on for all who read her work cover to cover.

"She's such a treasure to not just the state of Alabama, but the whole world," added Oliver.

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