Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Lee-GoSetAWatchman     Jean Louise Finch, or Scout as she is better known, returns home at twenty-six to find that her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama is different than she remembers. Racial tensions put her at odds with the town and its people, including her beloved father, Atticus.

There’s no doubt that the publication of this novel is a major literary event. The success and longevity of To Kill a Mockingbird, and the fact that it was Lee’s only published work, makes it so. But if we are to compare this to Mockingbird, Mockingbird comes out the clear winner.

But let’s look at Watchman on its own. The characters we know and love are there, as are many of the themes addressed in Mockingbird. The story, as a whole, is nicely done and plays out well. My biggest issue with the book is style. We spend a lot more time in the past than in the story’s present time dealing with the issue at hand. A lot of this time in the past is spread out sporadically through the story, sometimes without a clear indication of the shift.

Another issue is the narration. We see the story from Scout’s point of view as told by the narrator, but there are times when we see Jean Louise’ thoughts and it is suddenly in the first person, as if she is telling the story. The change happens so suddenly, and in such large chunks, that it feels like a major shift when it goes back to third person.

The lesson I took away from this book is the danger of a “with us or against us” mentality. The idea that people can’t have two opposing views, yet love one another greatly, is an idea that can leave people feeling let down, abandoned, betrayed, and hated. It can make a person bitter, resentful, and hateful.

1) Overall Plot = 4
2) Characters = 5
3) Flow/Pace of the story = 3
4) Is the story easy to follow? = 4
5) Overall Enjoyability = 3.5

Average of score 3.9 out of 5

Where to buy the book: Amazon | B&N

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