Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Review: Go Set a Watchman

TITLE: Go Set a Watchman
Sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird
AUTHOR: Harper Lee
PUBLISHED: July 2015
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: An adult Scout comes back home to Maycomb for a visit.
MY REVIEW: The first book I finished in 2016 was a much hyped book from last year. This is one of those books that has a lot of noise around it. That is, there are many issues involved. First, it has the baggage of being a sequel to a much beloved book. So that means many high and probably absurd expectations. Second, there was the way it got published. For those who don't know, there are some issues about whether or not this book should have been published in the first place because some feel Harper Lee herself didn't want it published. This is why I checked it out of the library, because honestly...there was no satisfying conclusion for me about whether or not Lee actually gave her permission for this to be published. I don't want to give money to shady publishing deals. Then there was just the outrage some people had over some things that happened in it. Namely, that it was revealed that Atticus was not quite the upstanding guy that people have made him out to be all these years.
When one clears away all the noise surrounding this book what you have is...honestly a pretty average book. You've probably heard all the negative reviews and honestly...a lot of those reviews are unfair. I feel a lot of them were mostly just people not being comfortable with some of the hard truths that this book confronted. Like the fact that no, Atticus was not perfect. He was just as racist as the other white guys in his era. Just because he did not treat black people like dirt, doesn't mean he wasn't also racist.
Me, I'm somewhere in the middle about this book. I like the things it talked about, more then the actual book itself, if that makes sense. It needed a LOT of editing. I can definitely tell this was a rush publishing job. Which furthers my opinion that the way this got published was more then a little shady. Story wise, it's kind of average. I will say I don't think this ruins To Kill a Mockingbird in any way. Maybe it makes you think about the book differently. But I don't think being forced to look hard at your favorite childhood book is necessarily a bad thing. Honestly, I think what one thinks about this book, will probably just come down to the individual.
WHO SHOULD READ: To Kill a Mockingbird fans (who don't idealize the book)
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five controversial bestsellers

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