This post is mostly spoiler-free discussion of Go Set a Watchman. If you plan on reading the book and do not want to see minor thematic spoilers for it, you may want to skip today’s essay.
There has been a lot of talk about Harper Lee’s new book. I do mean a lot, but it’s not all bad, and it’s not all good.
This is my take on the story. I think it reads like a first book. There are a lot of flashbacks in the novel, and they don’t always add to the story. The flashbacks felt like rambling thought, and this made it difficult for me to read.
Before the book even hit the shelves, there were a few articles about how Atticus is racist. Many people were upset and distraught by this. They had grown up with the Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird, the one that most readers felt had fought injustice and racism. I feel, most readers wanted to believe in the Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird. However, if you read both of the novels together, Atticus doesn’t really change. Most readers’ eyes have been opened to the idea that Atticus was ALWAYS racist. Just like Scout, we saw Atticus go from a good decent man in our eyes, to realizing that he has faults and isn’t all that we dreamed of.
This book is a good book to see comparisons, to be able to grow and learn about the characters much as Jean did. However, even if Atticus had remained a good person in the eyes of the reader, the book and its writing are just not good. Harper Lee seems to struggle with maintaining a plot and rhythm; it’s all over the place.
For those of you that have read it, did you enjoy it? Did you think it was better than I did? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts about the book.