“Sometimes you have to lie” is one of the most stunning lines in Louise Fitzhugh’s book Harriet the Spy — but it also speaks to Fitzhugh’s own life. After a childhood in segregated Memphis, she traveled to New York and was thrilled by the diversity and potential there: lesbian bars in Greenwich Village, the postwar art scene, and avant-garde writers including Maurice Sendak and Lorraine Hansberry. Her writing for children defied everything children’s literature “should” be, resisting conformity and authority, even as she felt pressures to conceal her own life and nature. This extraordinary biography is a compelling look at Fitzhugh, her creation Harriet, and the meaning of lies, truth, and individuality.
Just in time for the holidays, it’s the Monitor’s selections for the top books of December 2020 all wrapped up and tied with a bow.
Sometimes You Have to Lie by Leslie Brody: In this lively, compassionate biography of Louise Fitzhugh, author of the children’s instant-classic “Harriet the Spy” series from the 1960s, Leslie Brody sheds light on the remarkable woman behind the books.