Librarian, Nancy Fort, has read the controversial, newly-found book by Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, and is offering her views on the prequel to Lee’s famous To Kill a Mockingbird.
This week I read a book that has received a lot of attention lately. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Many of the reviews that I heard were unfavorable and there was even some speculation about if Ms. Lee really wrote the manuscript and what motivated her to publish it so many years after To Kill a Mockingbird. It has been a few years since I read Mockingbird and I thought maybe I should peruse it again before I borrowed the new book. I’m glad that I didn’t. I think the problem most people have with Go Set a Watchman is that it takes the reader back to the setting and characters of To Kill a Mockingbird but we find that things have changed in the 20 years since the original story was told.
People have expressed surprise to learn about Atticus Finch’s views on race in this book. Even his own daughter is shocked and cannot reconcile the father she thought she knew with the man who stands before her. But that is the crux of the story. The small town that Scout returns to for a two week visit with her father seems different to her than the town where she was raised. Her relatives and friends all seem different too. Are they different or is the 20-something year old Scout seeing things differently? I enjoyed the story because it lets Scout grow up. As mature as she may have seemed in To Kill a Mockingbird, she still had things to learn. Go Set a Watchman was a good story. The characters opinions, as distasteful as they are, seem plausible for white people living in Alabama in the 1960’s. It did seem to me that the conflict between Scout and Atticus was resolved rather quickly given Scout’s extreme physical reaction to the situation. I would have liked to keep reading to discover how they move forward from there but Scout was only home for a two week visit.