I read Harper Lee’s first, and until now only, book To Kill A Mockingbird years ago when I was a junior or senior in highschool. I wouldn’t say I loved it at the time of the reading (though I did strongly like it), but it is one of those books that sticks with you and as such my fondness for it has grown. When I learned that Harper Lee was going to have a new book published, I — along with many others — was thrilled. While I didn’t preorder it, I did put it on hold at my local library before it came out. I was the first on the hold list — thank goodness — and got my hands on it the day it came in. So, now that I’ve finished the much anticipated Go Set A Watchman, I’m not exactly sure how I feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It was amazing to see Scout all grown up, in fact, I think I love her even more now. She is as spunky as always, but still learns some important lessons and grows. She isn’t just some static character that can be defined through her spunkiness. Sorry for the vagueness, but as the book is so new, I’m trying not to give anything away. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s the same Scout, but she still has some growing up to do, and she goes through that in the course of this novel.
Some of the things I didn’t like are also things that Scout didn’t particularly enjoy throughout the story either, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t realities in the world we live in. I’m sorry, I can’t talk about this without some slight *spoilers*, so you’ve been warned. Miss Scout is all in a huff about racism, and rightly so. She has come to realize that people are complicated beings and those she loves may partake in doings and organizations that she deems unjust. Not everyone in the world around her is as colorblind as she is. Sadly enough the issues she must come face to face with are still issues in today’s America even though a considerable amount of time has passed. As I am white and no scholar on racial issues, I don’t have a long of insightful things to say about the issues America faces both during the times of this story or now. I can say though that people are people and we should really just treat everyone we meet with some inherent dignity and love. I think everyone deserves to be treated kindly no matter what they look like or identify as.
Anyways, this post is about the book not my thoughts on how America has some serious issues about treating people fairly, so back to the novel. I did truly enjoy it, but — there’s always a but isn’t there? — I don’t know that it quite lives up to it predecessor. Maybe I’ve let the novel grow in my mind over the years, but To Kill A Mockingbird seemed to have an epic quality about it that I feel this novel lacks. I don’t exactly know how to describe it because it has been years since I read that novel, but it just feels different to me. Though it could be I that is different. Or a bit of both. I guess I should have reread To Kill A Mockingbird before picking this book up.
I’m sorry my post really doesn’t do either of these novels the justice it deserves, but I just haven’t quite put my feelings together about all of this yet, and I’m not wholly sure I ever will. Maybe it’s simply because I didn’t get to discuss this book with anyone, but I just don’t exactly know what I feel nor what to say.
Before I depart though, I do wish to re-assert that I did enjoy this novel and I wholeheartedly believe it is worth a read whether or not you have previously picked up To Kill A Mockingbird (if you haven’t, please do, it’s an important book, and of course read it before it’s sequel.)
If you’ve picked it up, please comment so I can discuss it with someone. I’m on an island of isolation (metaphorically) this summer and need literary discussions.