Monday, October 5, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

      Go Set a Watchman is the recently published novel by Harper Lee that follows her classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In this novel, the reader sees a grown-up Jean Louise (Scout) Finch visiting her hometown and discovering that her father, whom she idolised in the previous novel, is not as heroic as she grew up believing.
      There was quite a bit of controversy surrounding the publication of this book--namely the time elapsed between Mockingbird and Watchman and the probability that it was not Lee's desire to publish this book, (Joe Nocera writes a good article for the New York Times about this controversy)--however, setting that controversy aside for a moment, let's focus on the literary merit of the story itself. What follows is purely the opinion of the librarian writing this post.
      Was it a good book?
      It was a well written book. It brought up controversial issues, it revisited ideas Scout held in childhood that fail to stand-up to the rigors of adult-hood, it highlighted racial tensions in a pre-Civil Rights Movement America. However, there is also a fair amount of problems that come out while reading this book. The biggest problem probably being that Go Set a Watchman is completely backwards from and completely negates most of the progressive and forward thinking of To Kill a Mockingbird. My biggest issue was with the ending when[SPOILER ALERT] after Jean Louise spends the entire book trying to bring progressive thinking to her home town, she is slapped in the face by her uncle so violently that her mouth bleeds. After this, she suddenly and unhesitatingly decides that she should never again disagree with white men in positions of power. [END SPOILER ALERT] It was, in my opinion, a highly disappointing ending to a book that failed to live up to its hype. Couple this with the controversy surrounding the nature of its publication, namely the idea that it was published against the will of Lee herself, and I was ultimately disappointed by this book.
      However! This is just my opinion, and you might have a different one about this book. To find out, you'll have to read it. Go Set a Watchman is available at the Ocean City Free Public Library, and you can put yourself on hold for it here. We want to hear what you think!

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