Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Review- Go Set a Watchman

This is a difficult review to write. I love To Kill a Mockingbird and it's one of my favorite books of all time. Going into Go Set a Watchman I had to remind myself that it wasn't going to be as good and thankfully I think that thought stuck so I was able to enjoy it as it was.
Synopsis from Goodreads: Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch--"Scout"--returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. 
Spoilers ahead! 
In this review what I'm mostly going to address are the claims that Atticus is racist in Go Set a Watchman. I can kind of see that point but only kind of. Basically, there was a movement for a second reconstruction and knowing how horribly the first one went, Atticus was against it. He wasn't being racist or against black people getting their rights so much as he was against the horrors of what the last reconstruction was and didn't want it to happen again. I don't know if there was a right way to do the reconstruction but what they did the first time didn't work and it looked as if they were trying the same methods for the second one. I'm going to grant here that I'm not the greatest on my War Between the States and reconstruction history but I have striven to learn what I can.
So I agree with Atticus for the most part and I agree with Scout, who's shocked by Atticus's views, for the most part too. I would say that for the reconstruction to be successful it would probably have to be at a much slower rate. It was a very complicated situation. Please understand I'm not racist in the least.
Now characters. The main ones made it back for the most part. Atticus, Scout, her aunt Alexandra and uncle Jack. Jem died a few years ago (ahhhhhh!!!!!!). Dill is only briefly mentioned. :( Scout has a boyfriend Hank that she's been friends with since childhood but I don't honestly remember if he's in TKM or not. The Tom Robinson case is only briefly mentioned and then it's to say that it was a case that Atticus won! So obviously Harper Lee decided to go for a change in TKM and the editors decided not to change the manuscript with GSW. Also, Bo is never mentioned at all. :( Uncle Jack is one of my favorite characters and in GSW when he says the War wasn't about slavery it was about states rights I wanted to cheer! :) Thank you Uncle Jack! There's many sweet flashback scenes with Scout growing up. Some of them made me laugh so hard... especially the one where she thought she was pregnant. :) I'm not sure Scout ever truly did grow up... something that is alluded to at several points in GSW. In so many ways I sympathize with her though. I never did want to grow up and I still find myself at this awkward point of being a "grown up" but not quite wanting to be yet.
I only read this book two days ago so these are kind of my gut reactions. I also read it in just under two hours. I'm kind of proud of that. :) However, because of that I probably missed bits here and there.
So all in all I liked Go Set a Watchman but it was no To Kill a Mockingbird. :)

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  1. I'm toying with myself about whether to read this or not.. I love TKAM and kinda don't want to ruin it if you know what I mean but then again I want to read this! :S

    1. I don't feel it changed my opinion of TKAM. However, I get your hesitation. I had it too but I'm glad I read it in the end.

  2. I had heard a couple of things about this book that had concerned me, so it's good to hear that they're not all rock-solid:) I think I'll probably read this eventually, but it's not super-high on my list yet;D

    1. It does have more bad language than TKM and a little crassness. I don't appreciate Scout yelling at her dad either. However, overall I did think it was good. :)

  3. On a scale from 1 - 5, what would you rate this book?

    I was also going between Atticus and Scout concerning the racist problem. I understood Scout and I understood Atticus, so I couldn't really pick a side.

    One of the things I liked was that Scout was the same. She was definitely grown up, but she was still the same. I couldn't believe that Jem died! How could Harper Lee do that to our feelings? I loved the flashback where Scout thinks she's pregnant. I also cracked up during the flashback of the prom, and the consequences. I felt so embarrassed for Scout, but it was such a funny situation. :)

    I was really happy to see a lot of Uncle Jack in this book. His personality really interested me. I can't imagine many men spending the rest of their lives reading Victorian literature and taking care of a cat. What Uncle Jack said about the War made me happy too. :) It is annoying because people think that the Civil War was only about slavery, and it wasn't. Actually, slavery was only a small part of it. Uncle Jack's lecture to Scout made me do a small happy dance. :)

    I was kind of sad that Scout didn't marry Hank. I think he would have been a good balance for her. Do you think that Scout should have married Hank?

    I've read GSW about a week ago, and have to agree that it is no TKM. The innocent child's perspective in TKM really makes a difference.

    1. 4.... at least that's how I rated it on Goodreads. :)
      Scout is SO the same! I liked that prom story too! So hilarious!!!!
      I'm torn on whether or not Scout should have married Hank. I can see it and I can't. I was mostly just upset she wasn't marrying Dill. ;)

    2. I got upset about that too. Dill was only mentioned once in the book, which annoyed me because I wanted to know how he had been doing. I almost wanted her to mention to Hank that she had promised Dill that she would marry him a long time ago. That way Hank would have been a little been jealous of Dill.

  4. Wow, two hours? You are fast! Also, I really appreciate your viewpoint on this one. :)

  5. Good thoughts Lois! Some of the writing was way over my head, much more so than TKM. Especially anything that Uncle Jack said. But I’m not super political and all the civil wars and each side’s beliefs still confuse me. My favorite parts of the book were Scout’s flashbacks. My least favorite were Cal’s reaction to Scout and that they killed off Jem. Also throwing in at the very end that Uncle Jack was in love with Scout’s mom. I wanted to know more. Like I wanted a whole chapter on that story or even a whole book! Alas. All in all, it was a good read and I’ll have to revisit it again to digest it better.


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