This was the hardest review for me this year. Part of it was not knowing whether or not I wanted to rewrite my review on To Kill a Mockingbird, and part of it was my review itself for Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee. In the end, I decided to link my old To Kill a Mockingbird review with a few highlights that I have gained from rereading it this year.
My rating has not changed from the last time that I have read this book. I still give it five out of five stars on Goodreads. However, there were two things that stuck out to me as I was rereading this book. The first was how I realized more of the poetic imagery that Harper Lee uses to describe people, places, and ideas. I know that this is my third time reading this book, but I loved the imagery and the poetic cadence of her words throughout the book. I also realized how much growth and development happened during the summer and how much time passed. It is about three to four years. I will admit that there were some events that happen during the winter/ school year, but they were few and only were mentioned if they pertain to growth, but our main focus has always been during the summer months. Those were the two things that stuck out to me as I was rereading this book. Let’s move on to Go Set A Watchman.
Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee focus on Scout’s transition from her illusion of her past to the reality of the present as she grows to understand more about herself and the people whom she loves.
I gave this book two out of five stars on Goodreads. The book was okay, but I was more frustrated with the book than enjoying it. It was not until I was finished with the book, did I realize the importance of what was going on that I finally gave it a better rating. It did take me 24 hours to reflect and think about the experiences, was I able to end my frustration with the book.
I will forewarn you now that I will be giving out some spoilers. Part of it is because I have no better way explain to you why I felt this way towards the book without giving you a bit of the book. I feel that by giving you some details, you can better understand my reasonings and my opinions. Lastly, I am also not recommending this book to anyone. Let me start off with some of the cons that I have with this book.
The first problem that I had with this book was the writing style. I felt that the writing styles between both books did not match. I understand that it has been 50 years since Harper Lee wrote her first book, and we never got to grow with her on her writing style. In addition, I have also done some research and found out that she got a lot of help with her first book with her publisher. However, I still feel that her sentence structures, sentence flows and cadence of her writing were completely different between both books. I will admit that there were small passages in which I did feel as though where the two books match in writing styles. For example, there is a moment in which Scout looks back into her past to when she starts having her periods and the misconceptions that she gains about sex and how babies are made. Being 12-year-old Scout thinking that she is pregnant, she starts to describe Autumn and how sad it was that she would have to die. It is this description of Autumn that was so beautiful and poetic, that it almost made me change my favorite season. It was that one little description that made me feel as though the two books were connected. However, those moments were very few. I still felt as though the writing was choppy and disorganized.
The next problem that I had, was that the events and some of the characters did not match. I do understand that with the characters that people change over time, but please give me a second to explain. I remember that in To Kill A Mockingbird you have the uncle visiting his niece and nephew, however, in Go Set A Watchman Scout made a comment about how her uncle has always lived eccentric in Maycomb not far from either home. That is what I mean, I know that people change, but when we go into a perspective of including a person’s past, all of a sudden the characters do not match. You also have past events that took place in both books not matching, for example, the court case. There were important events and ideas that were established that was not consistent from one book to the next. In To Kill a Mockingbird, I remember the questions about Mayella’s age and how she was 18 when the event happened, and how Tom was still sent to prison but was killed. However, in Go Set A Watchman, Mayella was 14 and Tom was acquitted (pg.109). Let’s just say that I almost put the book down to never pick it back up. This major detail is the main reason why I am still debating whether or not Harper Lee actually wrote the book.
The last problem that I had with the story was minor details that I wished put into the story. These details I feel would be a better bridge between the past and the present and help us understand our character’s growth and development. The first question is dealing with Jem’s death. You can kind of gather that he died during the WWII. That is it. I would still like more details surrounding Jem and his death. I don’t want the bloody gory details, but something to confirm my suspicion. The other question I had, is about Dill. It sounds like something happened and there was a falling out with Dill and the family. I would like to know what happened. The way Scout mentioned Dill made it sound like the falling out happened before Jem’s death. Finally, I would like to know what happened to Boo Radley and why her family had to move. I know that her old home became an ice cream store and that whole street was developed into a store front, but I would like to know why, and what happened to Boo once this happened.
However, I do have one good thing to say about this book. After finishing the book, I started to realize the huge importance that the book had in taking Atticus off of this pedestal. I feel that in school, as well as in life, in America, we placed Atticus on this righteous pedestal as the exemplary man going against racism in a very racist south. Is it my imagination that we did this as an American Culture? Or was it just White people who have done it? I truly enjoyed growing with Scout, and even more so, enjoyed the fact that the book made me think about my views on a character and wheater or not my views are accurate.
As I have mentioned before, I am not recommending this book. Even though I felt that the book was okay, and I realized its importance of taking Atticus off of that pedestal, I was mostly frustrated with the book. I did not enjoy that important moments that happened in To Kill a Mockingbird did not match in Go Set A Watchman. I also felt as though the writing styles were not matching and wondered throughout the book if Harper Lee truly wrote this book. With this frustration and wondering, I will just go ahead and save you trouble and claim that you should not read this book.
I do hope that you have enjoyed this review. Sorry, that it was a bit long. Please let me know your reviews/ views on both (or either) books. I do hope that you will have a wonderful weekend. Happy reading!
I want to add a retraction to Go Set A Watchman. Apparently Go Set A Watchman is a companion novel for To Kill A Mockingbird. This was the original manuscript that Harper Lee produced and sent to publishers. Which makes sense as to why events don’t match up. I find it interesting that before the book was published that it was labeled as a sequel. Think of it as an alternative universe for To Kill A Mockingbird, or a remake.
My rating still stays the same. I prefer the original 1960’s published book over this one. I like the more developed characters and landscape of To Kill A Mockingbird. My recommendation is also the same, especially if you are the fan of the original.