Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

go set a watchman by harper leePublished: July 14 2015

Number of pages: 278

Format: hardcover

Publisher: Harper

Genre: literary, classic, historical

Audience: adult fiction

Rating: 1/5 owl hoots

Find it on Goodreads | Chapters Indigo

Summary:

Twenty six year old Jean Louise Finch (Scout) returns to Maycomb, Alabama from New York to her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement and political turmoil in the South, Jean Louise eventually learns the disturbing truth of her family and friends and the townspeople. Memories from her childhood return as Jean Louise begins to doubt her ideals and values.

My Review:

This is one of the hardest reviews to write but my review is no way affected by the controversy and the comments by critics that have flooded my Twitter feed since the book’s release. Instead I began reading this story with an open mind to rediscover Jean Louise and the characters that I adored in To Kill a Mockingbird. I admit it was hard at first to read this story without thinking about what others said about the book already (I should have laid off Twitter during the week of the release), but I went on reading Harper Lee’s new book anyways.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the story; in fact I was disappointed, really disappointed especially with the ending, which didn’t feel like an ending at all! But before I go there, let’s talk about the characters because they are one of the reasons why I wanted to read this story. Jean Louise aka Scout returned home to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her seventy-year-old father, Atticus. Twenty-six years old and living in New York, Jean Louise is no longer the tomboyish girl wearing overalls; she’s a grown, independent lady with a strong will and a confidence I don’t remember seeing in To Kill a Mockingbird. Jean Louise is the only character that I could connect and the rest I felt no attachments with at all, especially Atticus, who has changed dramatically.

By now, you’ve probably heard rumors floating around social media, and online about Atticus turning into a racist, and sadly those are true. I didn’t like how Atticus changed. One of the most memorable scenes of him from To Kill a Mockingbird was the courthouse scene, which earned my admiration for Atticus as one of the bravest, respectable characters I’ve read. But now, it’s like he gave up on everything he believed in and instead, he lives on a new doctrine “if you can’t beat them, join them.” And just like Jean Louise, I started asking myself the same questions: whatever happened to the old Atticus who fought for equality and rights? Am I being naïve as Jean Louise? What made him this way? There’s also this scene between Jean Louise and her uncle, Dr. Finch where she discusses Atticus and his transformation since she left Maycomb. This was one of the most confusing scenes I read because I couldn’t understand Dr. Finch’s monologues and just like Jean Louise I was frustrated with his character. When someone asks you a yes or no question, you expect a straight answer not some dribble dialogue where they end up ranting like some mad hatter. Maybe it’s just me but I really couldn’t make sense of this scene at all.

Then there’s the ending which was a real disappointment because it didn’t feel like the conclusion of the story, more like a open ending with more questions then answers. It’s like the story ended abruptly without closure with the characters. What about Atticus and Jean Louise? Will they still be in good terms together? Will Jean Louise still put up a good fight for equal rights for all? Or is she going to give up like Atticus did? I need closure!!

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with this story and the majority of the characters. Maybe this book isn’t for me or maybe I was looking at the story the wrong way. I still enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird, but after I finished this book, a part of me regretted having to read it. But I was really curious so I gave in instead. For anyone who loved To Kill a Mockingbird, I wouldn’t recommend this book for you but if you insist on reading it like I did, then proceed with caution.

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