By Harper Lee
Goodreads Rating: 3.31
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: July 14th 2015
Format Read: Audiobook
Goodreads Summary: From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision–a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.
*The following review contains spoilers for To Kill A Mockingbird*
HAPPY 3 YEAR PUBLISHING ANNIVERSARY!!!! I totally didn’t plan for the review to line up like this, but then I only had to push it back one week, so it seemed worth it and I moved stuff around and went for it!
The only reason that this book was even published at all is that it was written by Harper Lee. This book was never meant to be published, and you can tell from the way it’s written. It’s 90% dialogue, there’s not much plot going on, the flashbacks are weird and make the whole thing messy, and it’s just generally a mess.
That being said, it was still good to read about Scout again, and I think her character stayed true. I felt like she was the same little girl, and in the parts where she was just sort of commenting sarcastically about what everyone else was doing, I really liked it. For me, the first half was far better than the second, which is why it managed to get 3 stars despite a very, very unsatisfactory wrap up and ending.
In the book, Scout goes back to Maycomb for a visit, since she now lives in New York City. Atticus has this disease where he can barely pick things up and his hands shake all the time, Alexandra lives there full time to take care of him, and sweet sweet Jem is dead.
Basically, Scout (known now as Jean Louise) learns just how racist literally everyone in her entire town is, and she talks to them about it. That’s the entire plot. In the beginning it was interesting because the flashbacks were fun and I was just enjoying Scout, but it got old and the end discussions between Atticus and Jean Louise, then between her Uncle (who I don’t think was in TKAM) and her, were just way too long. It was obvious that this book was NEVER MEANT TO BE PUBLISHED.
They ruined Atticus. In this book, he was a racist asshole, as were all of Jean Louise’s relatives. It was terrible. It made me hate them all. Even though maybe they were well written, it was just so out of nowhere given TKAM that I had trouble believing it. It’s clear that Lee wrote this book first, and that there was a reason she never tried to publish it. Because the characters didn’t line up at all, and it would have destroyed a true classic image.
Scout was the same, rash, rebellious. But her relationship with Harry (a boy from her town) felt forced and wrong and something that the real Scout wouldn’t do. That being said, I love her and she was the only character I like, even though I think even she had a poor ending to the novel.
Going back to Maycomb, albeit in a very very very different context.
Ruining Atticus and the stark lack of plot.
Well, all the black people are treated terribly, and told that they’re animals, so there’s that.
RACISM EVERYWHERE. It hurts even more coming from someone we thought we could trust (now I know why I’m so sad. We all idolize Atticus just like Scout did. Damnnnn)
This book was not nearly as good as I was expecting, but I think it’s a worthwhile read for people who enjoyed TKAM and want a little insight into Lee’s creative process. But it’s not something to read just as someone interested in fiction in general, or just finding a good book to read. If that’s the case, skip it and preserve Atticus in your brain.
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