Once in a while a character gets chatty. You have to let them talk, of course. It would be rude to interrupt.

For two days now a nine year old girl called Bean has been talking about Greenbrair, South Carolina. She’s been telling me about everybody she knows (and she knows everybody), their habits (good and bad), their extended families, the church they go to and why they go there.

So last night I was thinking about Bean and I realized that she’s something like Scout from to Kill a Mockingbird. This morning I went back over all the things Bean has been telling John Dodge and listening close to her voice. I was worried that I had dressed scout up in new clothes, which would never do. Scout has an excellent book to call home, and I can’t haul her out of there and into mine.

Bean assures me that she isn’t Scout. She doesn’t have a brother or a friend called Dell or a wise father called Atticus. Her mother is divorced and bitter, and her father works on an oil rig and never calls. No need to get all grumpy about grownups, she tells me. There’s nothing a kid can do to change them. Might as well focus on the good stuff.