“Go Set a Watchman” Book Review

Jessica Sanders –

Take a moment and think back to high school. Your high school English class to be exact. Chances are, you read the best selling book, To Kill a Mockingbird. I loved it, which is why I was intrigued to read Harper Lee’s newest book Go Set a Watchman.

If anyone else was just as excited as me for the release of this book, don’t be.

Back in the 1950s, when Harper Lee showed this book to her publisher, she was rejected. They told her to write a book about Jean Louise, better known as Scout, and her life growing up in rural Alabama. They thought this would be more interesting and  boy were they right!

I’m guessing the only reason that this book got published in the first place was because of the success To Kill a Mockingbird had. Harper Lee herself did not want this book to be published. Come on, what kind of author does not want their work published? If that is not a big enough clue that a book is not worthy to be out in the big bad world, I don’t know what is.

In Go Set A Watchman, Jean Louise has flashbacks to her childhood. These moments happen to be some of the best parts of the book. Scout, who now goes by Jean Louise, is in her late twenties. She is still just as childish though she had years to mature. I only kept reading the book because I had been so enthusiastic. I kept hoping for something exciting to happen. The only good part was the ending. Not just because it was over, but because it did have some thought in there. Here’s where the book spoilers start to come in.

We find out that Jean Louise lives in New York and came home for a couple weeks. She stays with her Aunt Alexandra and her father Atticus, but unfortunately, her brother Jem has died from a heart condition, one that is very similar to the one that took the life of their mother. Things get weird when Jean Louise visits Calpurnia, who was the maid of her house when she was growing up. It seems as if a big problem Macomb County is racism and segregation. Jean Louise, coming from the North, is appalled when she sees this

. I did find it very interesting to read about the racism that goes on during the setting of the book, because it can still be compared to racist events that are regrettably still occurring today. The book was written during the heat of the Civil Rights Movement, so it was a big topic to write about at the time.

During Jean Louise’s trip home, she spies on a town meeting. It happens to be all men in attendance, since women did not have all their rights at this time yet either. Jean Louise decides to go to this meeting where her father and fiancée are, which happens to be the Klan. She is so upset to see this that she gets physically ill and terribly mad. Later on, there is a huge fight between her and her father, who were quite close in To Kill a Mockingbird.

This is basically To Go Set a Watchman in a nutshell. Do you wonder if things turn out for the best for Jean Louise? Or, will she stay away from Macomb County, Alabama for the rest of her life? You will have to read this scandalous book to find out.

Jessica Sanders, from Woodstock, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in English with a concentration in Secondary Education. Jessica is a member of the IC choir and is a writer for The Rambler.


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