Well I finished Go Set A Watchman on Tuesday and have been hesitant to write a review for a few reasons: one-I don't want to give anything away; two-It's just my personal opinion...I'm not an official book reviewer.
But I'm going to do it anyway :) I'm not going to get into too many details because I don't want to give the story away if you haven't read it. But I will tell you the premise and how it kind of plays out and the message of the story.
Here we go!
Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.
Go Set A Watchman is based in Maycomb still [written in the 1950s], with Scout as a grown woman. She has come back home for a visit from New York, and finds herself surrounded by the same old town. We all know how much Scout respected and looked up to Atticus, who is now old and suffering from an illness, but this book will put all that to the test.
This book is set in the time period where African Americans were looking for advancement in the country and wanted to fight for equality. We all know from To Kill A Mockingbird that Atticus is one to fight for what's right. But what defines "what is right"? Is it what is right in your heart? Or what is right according to the country or what others think?
Again we find ourselves reading about a situation where a black man has accidentally killed a white man, and now the town is abuzz with discussions of what should be done. Of course, naive Scout believes that Atticus will help him and give him the best defense possible, because well, he's a human and all humans deserve the same treatment. Well Scout is disappointed to find that this is not necessarily the case in the South at this time.
Scout follows her father and her sort-of boyfriend [when she's home] to a meeting one day, and is overcome with anger by what she hears. She cannot believe what her father and Hank are a part of, and her world is shattered. She always thought of her father as a moral compass, someone she could look up to and believe in. This news sends her in a tailspin and there is only one person that can help her out of it, her uncle. He tries to make her see what is going on in the world and to make her think for herself; separate her from her father. She needs to be her own person, and even Atticus knows this. Eventually things are resolved, sort of. Atticus and Scout have reached a crossroads, but it seems to be ok as is in the end.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch is set up as this moral compass, a hero for what is right, and in Go Set A Watchman, all of that is questioned. I didn't want to think of Atticus as anything but honorable; I liked that there was a good guy and someone to stand up for what was right. Some people have been commenting that in this book, we learn that Atticus is a racist. I'm going to stick my neck out there and say that maybe he's not...maybe he's a normal guy living in the South, and at the time, people had to do what people had to do.
If you read between the lines, it does seem that Atticus does know right from wrong still, and is maybe laying low until the time is right. This is not what we would expect from Atticus, and so that's why I think so many people are critical of his character in this novel. But if you look closely, Scout is now that moral compass...the watchman...and she is willing to fight. So Atticus passed on the good and she has become the one we can look up to. So at least there is good in the end.
Review by Stephanie Wolters
I do recommend reading this book, if anything to form your own opinion. Nothing will compare with TAKM, but I don't think that was the point of this novel, nor should it be compared. Take it for what it is, and look at it as a lesson; we need to learn from the past, so as to help shape the future.
Thanks for reading :)