Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (review by Jacqueline H. ’18)

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve been yearning to read Go Set a Watchman for the longest time. A highly anticipated sequel of sorts to the acclaimed classic To Kill a Mockingbird, Watchman was released just this summer. I bought a copy last week to annotate and read, and I can now say that while this sequel isn’t for everyone, it certainly has its perks. The novel characterizes the life of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, who returns to her Alabama hometown after a few years in New York. During her visit, the dissonance between her childhood memories and the reality of her town becomes clear. Disillusionment is a key theme in Lee’s novel–Jean Louise realizes that the world isn’t a dichotomy of good and bad, but rather a morally gray setting that people simply make the best of. Watchman is more realistic than Mockingbird. Although it is more somber, it is nevertheless poignantly written. While Lee’s prose is incisive and delightful to read, there was a discrepancy to her characterization that I found disturbing. For instance, it was very difficult to connect the older Jean Louise to Scout in Mockingbird. Watchman also reads more like a rough draft than a full-fledged novel–and the ending wasn’t as satisfying as I hoped it would be.

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