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Go Set a Watchman Review

I promised you that I would write a review of Harper Lee’s “new” book. Now, after waiting for other people at my library to read it and reading it myself, here’s my review. All I can say, this book…

Let’s start at the beginning. Harper Lee’s agent found the manuscript for Go Set a Watchman, a book she wrote before To Kill a Mockingbird and it got rejected. Apparently she had the manuscript tucked away somewhere and she agreed for it to be published. Like many people, I decided to read Mockingbird before I read this book.

In this book Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, now an adult, returns to Maycomb County Alabama after living in New York for years now. While there, she sees that everything she remembers has changed. The biggest thing is Atticus, the dad she looked up to as a kid, shows a new side of him that Scout hates.

I’m just going to spoil the big thing right: Scout suspects that Atticus is a racist and she wants to know the truth. That’s the entire plot of the book people. You’d think it was a romance between Scout and Henry, but it’s a simple subplot designed as a plot that appears a hundred pages into the book.

If you want to know, yes, Atticus admits that he is racist.

A lot of fans were outraged at this revelation. They cried foul because this one man who comes across as a caring father and someone who will and has defended black people. Here’s the thing: Atticus being racist is not a shocker.

Let me explain. Here’s a man who grew up in the Deep South during the beginning of the 20th century. The Civil Liberties movement didn’t get serious until the sixties. He’s a product of his time. The only reason he defended a black man is because this is what he felt was right in accordance to the law. Mockingbird made it seem like he did out of the kindness of his heart, but instead it was because he felt he had a compelling case.

Now for the rest of the book. Here’s the synopses: Scout returns to Maycomb, she sees everything is different, she finds out her dad is at a meeting where a racist is giving a speech, she asks Atticus if he is racist, she flips out and leaves when he says yes, her uncle tells her that he’s her dad and he’s a nice person, she goes to his office and says she loves him.

That’s exactly what happens in 278 pages.

I thought Mockingbird was boring, this is worse. It started out interesting but came to a crawl after thirty pages. The only interesting that happens is when Scout thinks Atticus is racist. That could’ve been done in sixty pages instead of 178. Hell, look at other reviews of the book and you’ll see that even people who LOVE Mockingbird hate this book.

In all, I could’ve lived my whole life without ever reading this book. Many fans said the exact same thing. It hurts to say this, but you’re better off reading Mockingbird instead of this. This book just comes across as a cash cow that was rejected for good reason.

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To Kill a Mockingbird Review

Yup, I am one of those people who have jumped on the bandwagon and read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird before Lee’s new book came out. Here’s the odd thing about me reading this book: I was never required to read it in school. Usually in high school this is the first book they throw at you. I did have to read The Giver twice, though.

Anyway, I read this not just because they found Lee’s old manuscript for Go Set a Watchman, but also this is one of those “must read” books. What did I think of the book? The short answer can be found in this video I used in my Brave New World review.

The long answer, I found most of the book boring. Yes, that’s right. A book that many people love was an instant best-seller when it came out and won Lee a Pulitzer bored me. You see, the writing is phenomenal. Lee has a knack for writing I can give her that. The way the characters speak and how she describes things feel like they are real. I was able to hear the Southern accents in their speech.

The problem I had with the book is that nothing interesting happens. Notice how I said nothing interesting instead of nothing? That’s because stuff does happen, but they are pretty dull. Scout and Jem go to school. Scout and Jem celebrate Christmas with a cousin they hate. Jem ruins a neighbor’s flower bed and must read to her.

You see, these things are mundane. Not that there’s anything wrong with writing about mundane things. House on Mango Street, A Streetcar Named Desire and Annie John do wonderful jobs at making the mundane interesting. The problem with Mockingbird is that these particular mundane events are not interesting. They’re too mundane to be exact.

The best part of the book is the trial scene. This scene is pretty one the biggest reasons people read this book. The thing is, the trial does not start until page 160 and lasts for about 60 pages. This scene had it all. It was suspenseful, well-written and it showed one of the book’s biggest themes: Racism. You see, here it’s a black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Everything the woman and her dad didn’t add up which meant Atticus had it in the bag. But, since this does take place in 193os Alabama, the black man was found guilty. Not only is that racist, but it’s downright unjust.

It’s too bad that the events of the trial had very little impact on the plot or the characters. Hell, the book even says people in Maycomb forgot about it.

In the end, I’m glad I read this book because I just crossed something off my bucket list. However, I did not enjoy it as much as I wanted to. It was way too boring. I will read Go Set a Watchman when I get from my library (I’m number 242 on the list. Yup, it’s that popular) and there will be a review posted here. It will take a while, but don’t worry; I have other projects in mind.

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