Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Click image for source.

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.


3 thoughts on “Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

  1. Gee Jen July 18, 2015 / 2:07 am

    Love your review!!

    I just finished the book this morning and am too feelingthe need to discuss with someone!

    It is different yet the same and its so interesting think about how ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ emerged from this book. So many of the characters are there but not fully described.

    A lot I have read so far is people not wanting to read it because Atticus is not so perfect but that is exactly what this book is about and I don’t think he loses anything in being taken down from his pedestal

    • Katie July 18, 2015 / 2:26 am

      I agree. Atticus is far from perfect, but it is all very real. Let’s be real here, they lived in the south in a very tumultuous time. While this doesn’t excuse his actions or anyone’s racist actions/motives/beliefs, it is believable.

      And you’re right, Scout needed to see Atticus’s imperfections to grow. It’s a shame it was so painful, but it was necessary. To me it seems pretty common for children to be more liberally minded than their parents (at least on social issues, I mean look at today and lgbtq rights).

      The thing that made me the most sad was how everything ended with Henry. While she was angry and hurt that he was also involved in the citizen’s council, that wasn’t why she chose not to marry him–it was all about social class. I wouldn’t have blamed her for being unable to marry him because of his involvement in the council or because she simple realized that she wasn’t in love with him, but it’s said that she didn’t marry him because he wasn’t her ‘kind.’ That just seems really sad to me.

  2. Gee Jen July 19, 2015 / 6:56 am

    I missed that she didn’t marry him because he wasn’t her kind, I know that’s what Aunt Alexandra believed but I didn’t think Scout did. I think I recall her discussing it with Uncle Jack but if they said her kind i think it meant more her own personal kind/mate/partner. I think it was because she didn’t love him

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s