Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

When I heard that Harper Lee was releasing a second book I cried. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, and the idea of getting more of Ms. Lee’s genius was so exciting to me. So I waited with baited breath for the release to be announced. I sat quietly through all the controversy, hoping that the publisher wouldn’t pull it, and I was rewarded with the early release of the first chapter. It was magical! I immediately pre-ordered it. The book finally found itself in my mailbox Saturday, and I spent half that night reading it. Needless to say, I absolutely loved it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Still, I have been shocked to read just how many people are not impressed with Watchman.

Many people were expecting it to be a “true” sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. It isn’t. To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of a little girl’s father through her eight-year-old eyes. Yes, I suppose it can be classified as a “coming of age story”, but, when you really get to the heart of it, it’s about how much Scout loves and admires Atticus. Watchman is not a seamless continuation of that story. The story is no longer about how Scout sees Atticus; instead, the story is about Jean Louise. This isn’t Atticus’s story. This is hers. I think this is the true “coming of age story”. 
Watchman is truly Jean Louise’s story. It is the story of a young woman being forced to open her eyes and see the world around her. She is young, naive, headstrong, and full of fight. With these things in her arsenal, she sets out to see the people and place she knows best with the eyes of a fledgling adult, and she doesn’t handle it well. Full disclosure, there were times where I was completely appalled at how Jean Louise was acting, but it felt real. Ms. Lee writes Jean Louise’s story with realness that you can’t ignore. Jean Louise isn’t perfect. She isn’t a philosopher. She isn’t a poet. She’s a feisty Southern gal living through difficult times, trying to deal with it as best as she can.

The book has left us with many questions at then end, but the one that most people are asking is “Is Atticus a racist?”. Maybe. Is that important? Personally, I don’t think that he is, but that’s not important. Atticus’s own personal feelings on race relations are obviously not that important to the overall plot of the book; otherwise, they would have been better explained. The important thing to remember is that, unlike Mockingbird, this book is not so much about race relations as it is about seeing people for what they really are.

Bottom line:  Go Set A Watchman is an interesting read that poses many questions. It is not a “true” sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, and I don’t encourage you to read the two right after each other. I highly recommend Go Set A Watchman.

Love and Happy Reading,

Gayle  

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