- Title: Go Set a Watchman
- Author: Harper Lee
- Genre: Literary Fiction
- Average Rating on Goodreads: 3.32 stars out of 5
- Average Rating on Amazon: 3.9 stars out of 5, here
- Movie Adaptation: None, so far.
- Year of Publication: 2015
Go Set a Watchman is a story set in the backdrop of the racial tensions in the South in the 50s and the tensions that strain the various ties Jean Louise has with her family and close ones. The disillusionment that Jean Louise, aka Scout, faces when she finds out that her moral compass, her father Atticus, silently encourages, or at the very least, does not discourage discrimination in Maycomb.
Described loosely as the prequel, or the first draft of the bestseller, To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM), the story goes through a span of two weeks of Scout’s vacation spent with her family in Maycomb. However, the story is not chronologically set before TKAM. It talks about Scout, who after completing her education, now lives in New York. What she sees, hears and experiences, during her stay in Maycomb, brings a big turmoil to her. Now, I won’t really get into how the story molds, but I would simply talk about the what liked about the book and what I did not, or should I say did not understand.
I will first get done with what I liked about the book, since well it is not a very long list. Well, the feel, the language and the detailing in the book, is almost the same as TKAM. The book is otherwise an easy read, and you never really feel that it is being dragged. And if you relate to Scout like I do, and I am sure a lot of other women do, as a tiny girl at heart, who retains the same ideals and aspirations at the core, you will feel the same way until you reach the pivotal point in the plot. I say pivotal not because it is binary in the outcome. No, I did not hate the book because of this pivot. It is just that the twist in the book is not very clear to me, it is sort of confusing. But it is easy to relate to Scout throughout the book. Also, the subtle changes in Scout’s relationship with her family, whether it be the reduced hostility with her aunt Alexandra, or the new found closeness with her uncle Jack, is endearing.
Now coming to the important part, I found the plot a bit confusing. No matter what justifications the characters provide for their actions in the book, I feel that plot was only half baked. There is no background to the support Atticus’ bigotry, ( or not, depends on how you look at it). There are not details or plot developments of any kind in the book which support the drastic turnaround of Atticus’ character, from a person whom Scout holds in high moral esteem to someone she hates. And again, I will make it clear that it’s not the portrayal that I dislike per se. It is the lack of reasoning, or background, or supporting details that I do not understand.
Next, I do not understand, why Scout’s character does not stop to understand or give people a chance to clear their name, or at least, explain their behavior. Her hysterical behavior is not out of place, but I believe, if there was some explanation along with the hysteria, it would have been more effective. Her shock and trauma come across as very immature in the book, and while one might argue that this is what was meant to be conveyed, I think, there are some places in the book where I fail to understand why does she behave in a certain way. So, if I want to summarize, I will say that, the reading of the book brought out too many confusions and very few resolutions to these confusions along the way.
- My Rating: 2.5 stars out 5
- Recommendation: It is an easy straight forward read, but it is not very convincing in the manner that To Kill a Mockingbird was. Give it a go with reasonable expectations.