I want to start out by saying that To Kill A Mockingbird will always be one of my favorite books. I am not sure of the circumstances that allowed Go Set A Watchman to come out but I was more than eager to read it although I feel bad that Ms. Harper Lee may not have wanted it read. I finally got my thoughts in order enough to share them and I am so excited to give this book review.
In Go Set A Watchman, Jean Louise is returning to Maycomb and really dealing with being too big for a small town. The Scout that we all know and love grew up to be exactly what I had hoped she would be, and throughout this book she has to deal with learning that the way that she perceived the town and the people in it isn’t actually how they are. I think this is an important book, even if it doesn’t quite tell the same story as TKAM.
I really liked reading Go Set A Watchman, I really did. But before you all go out and start reading you need to keep something in mind; this book is NOT To Kill A Mockingbird. It just isn’t, major characters and events are barely even mentioned. If you go in thinking that this book is TKAM you will be disappointed. I had a really hard time with that. It was very hard for me to let go of Jem. I’m saying this not as a spoiler because it doesn’t feel like a spoiler. Jem is not around in GSaW and frankly I was not prepared for that, I wanted to know what became of Scout, and Jem, and Dill and I didn’t really get that but I’m okay with it. The part that really struck me was that the rape case was mentioned hardly ever, it was brought up but like once or twice. So this is definitely not To Kill A Mockingbird, it is it’s own book and even though it’s really really hard sometimes I just had to step back and remind myself that these two are separate. Even if I want to scream loudly about the lack of Boo Radley.
The characters are very different, but most of them are very good. I absolutely loved Jean Louise, she is stubborn and modern and everything Scout should grow up to be. Atticus, however, is a different story. Whew, where do I begin? I still adore him but I am almost as disappointed as Jean Louise was when she found out where her father stood on certain issues. I really do love him as a human being though, even if he is kind of a problematic fave right now. I did really love that he is just as wise and graceful as he was in TKAM though. Jem and Dill aren’t in the picture anymore and I don’t like Henry so that’s all I have on the characters.
All and all, Harper Lee is important. She was important then and just as relevant now. With police brutality and the continuity of racial injustice I think that both books are still important/relevant today. These books are about more than Scout and Atticus, these books are about race and I think that even revisiting them for a chapter can remind us that there needs to be a change. Go Set A Watchman wasn’t as great as TKAM, but it was still good, and Jean Louise is still a great example.
I had a lot of thoughts and feelings to channel into this one post so I hope it was coherent. If anyone has any thoughts on the book feel free to share, I definitely would love a conversation about it.