I have evenings where I stand in front of my bookshelf and while I always have a couple books I haven’t read yet, there are days when I pick my favourites. And one book stands out above the rest. I read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee when I was in grade 10 English and it stuck with me all these years later. I read it at least once a year.
There’s just something about the entire story, the situation Tom Robinson faces and the way Atticus Finch stands up for him despite the difficulty it will cause his family. I appreciate how tough Scout and Jem are through it all and how they see so clearly what so many of the adults around them can’t see. And the fascinating Boo Radley. All of that and more and I find something new in it every time I read it.
So it is fitting that this is the very first book I’m blogging about. It’s not about To Kill A Mockingbird although if you haven’t read it, please do. This is about the book that I think tops the list of most anticipated reads of all time for me. February 3rd of this year, I was so surprised (as was the literary world) that a new novel from Harper Lee would come out on July 14th. I was content with her classic, but now a new story! I was excited for months to read Go Set A Watchman. It is set twenty years after the original story and I was ready to meet Scout as an adult in the 1950’s.
And then I got scared. Reviews came out before the book was published and I avoided social media as much as I could as the reviews seemed mixed. I bought it the day it came out but I didn’t start it right away. I was so afraid of being let down after perhaps years of anticipation (really 6 months). Then my cousin M gave me the best advice, she said read it like it’s a standalone book. It’s not a sequel or a prequel, it’s its own story. Her advice was what I needed.
I read it on the dock at my cottage and I really liked it. As much as the story stood alone, Scout still felt like Scout and it was nice to meet her as an adult. Many of the other characters appeared in some way or another. Some were missing which I’ll admit made me sad and there were some new additions. And, if you’ve read reviews, Atticus is not painted as the hero in this book but that will never change my position that he is one of the greatest literary heroes of all time.
Despite all of the anticipation, the reviews (that I didn’t actually read beyond the tweets), and my own nerves, I really enjoyed it and I would recommend it. But just remember, if you love To Kill A Mockingbird, make sure you read Go Set a Watchman as its own story.