Title: Go Set a Watchman Author: Harper Lee Published: July 14th 2015 by HarperCollins) Format: Hardcover, 278 pages Genre: Historical Fiction
I do not have a connection with To Kill a Mockingbird that others have. I do not remember reading it in school during a time when such things make a lasting impression. I vaguely remember parts but could not tell you if it was from the book or from the movie.
Without having an emotional tie with the classic book, I went into Go Set a Watchman with open eyes and a deep curiosity as to how a book could be so derisive. What I was greeted with was a woman that had a strong up-bringing, a curiosity for life, a life altering moment in her younger years, a handful of decisions to make and in the blink of an eye, the realization that the man that she thought she knew was a stranger to her.
There is nothing more earth shattering then when a woman learns that her father is not the man that she thought he was. Though it was not under the same circumstances, I could relate to Jean Louise “Scout” Finch at this exact moment. The moment when you world crashes and you begin to questions your whole life.
Flashing back to her past, Scout reminisces about her growing up and the times and situations that helped her to be who she is. As she states, she was blessed to be color-blind, so the realities that she must face when she returns to Maycomb County are harsh. Henry, her almost fiancé, tries to explain how you have to be in the middle of something, no matter how horrible it is, to see it from all parts and change it from within, but Scout is having no part of that. With Jem now gone, she is confused. Calpurnia and even her Uncle Jack have tried, but when times change, there is no going back.
I love southern humor. There are long drawn out parts of this book, but the humor is what kept me focused. Not to say that this is a funny book, the subject is very serious, but the south has a way of telling a story and peppering it with humor. Your heart breaks for Jean Louise, she has been gone a long time and home tends to change when you are not there. Home can even change when you are sitting at your father’s knee, but we cannot always see it when we are living it.
As others have said, this book is not To Kill a Mockingbird; it takes place almost twenty years later. The people are the same, but the time is different. I cannot say if it is better, but to me, it is lasting. The heartbreak is palpable. The frustrations are real. The realization that everything is bearable when you become your own person bounces off the pages.
Scout had to become a separate entity from her father. He was her God and when he descended to human level, her world was rocked. It was time for her to return to Maycomb, she was on the cusp of maturity and humbleness of mind. As the tide was turning, she now had to run to meet it.