When I learned that a newly discovered sequel to one of my favorite classic novels, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was being released this past summer, I was both ecstatic and extremely nervous. What else could Harper Lee have written about Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her Maycomb adventures? The novel that Harper Lee actually wrote prior to her bestseller is entitled “Go Set a Watchman,” and it filled my heart with joy while breaking it at the same time.
The book begins with the beloved protagonist Jean Louise—now 26-years-old—returning to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama for a visit, after having moved to New York years ago. Readers are thrown back into the South as we see Jean Louise reconnect with Aunt Alexandra; her uncle, Jack; her father, Atticus; and her childhood friend and possible love interest, Henry “Hank” Clinton. We even see a bit of Calpurnia, who once worked in the Finches’ home.
While the novel takes place two decades after the events of “Mockingbird,” we are thrust back into the past on numerous occasions throughout the story, and we are able to learn about some of the events that occurred between then and now. I was not expecting the novel to include so many flashbacks, but it was nice to know what happened after “Mockingbird” up until this point in Maycomb.
Jean Louise goes around to familiar places and meets some familiar faces, some that readers of the classic might even remember. It gives a feeling of nostalgia, as if you are actually the one in her shoes, walking around Maycomb. It felt nice to be able to go back to a place I used to imagine while reading “Mockingbird” so many years ago.
One of the most controversial topics of “Watchman” is that of Atticus Finch, Jean Louise’s father. So many people who read this sequel are upset with how Atticus has changed as a character, and that is all there is to say about it without giving away details. I still enjoy him very much, and I understand the changes that have occurred within him and why they happened. I was in no way offended about this, as I was worried I would be after hearing the negativity surrounding the novel.
I loved almost every aspect of this book. The only parts I did not enjoy were those that gave me a feeling of sadness. I enjoyed that “Go Set a Watchman” was like a trip down memory lane, but with a whole new story. It was so interesting to see Jean Louise reconnect with other characters who I loved when I read “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
If you loved the original classic novel that helped shape American literature, then ignore any negative reviews of “Go Set a Watchman” that you see, and read this new, beautiful work.