Book Review

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I now need to know how this evolved into TKAM. I don’t know how I would feel about this as a free-standing book. Having recently reread TKAM in anticipation of this book, I feel it provides an interesting look into this universe.

I am not devastated by the changes we see in Atticus because I never really thought of him as “real” to begin with. He is an ideal and a paradigm that just isn’t to be believed.

I like Scout. She has aged just as I thought she would (although this is not a sequel and shouldn’t be though of that way). This was what Harper Lee originally wanted to have published so this is her original rendering of Scout. Knowing this, I feel that the childhood depicted in TKAM would have produced the Jean Louise of GSAW.

The important thing to realize is both of these books tell the African American story from a white perspective. And the events that take place are simply part of Scout’s coming of age, in both books. TKAM isn’t about the trial. Rather it is about Scout becoming aware and seeing her father in a certain light. GSAW is about Scout opening her eyes… seeing the world, coming back to the world of her youth, and seeing it for what it is. Jean Louise sees that her father and this world are flawed. This is where GSAW gets me as I can really relate. I recently had children and have been rethinking the world I grew up in only to realize that what I thought was reality and what truly was reality were VERY different. That is a difficult lesson to learn.

Again, I don’t know what I would think about this book by itself. But I feel that I more deeply understand TKAM and actually appreciate it differently after reading GSAW. And I appreciate having the experience. As to the ethics of its unveiling, I don’t know that anyone can say with certainty. But the skeptic in me tells me it was unethical. I got my copy from the library and did not want to financially support what I feel must have been exploitation. But I can’t unread GSAW, nor do I want to.

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