Book Review: “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee

Published in 2015, this book takes us back to the 1950’s when Eisenhower was President and the equal rights movement was in its infancy. Jean Louis Finch, or Scout as she was known as a child, returns to Maycomb, Alabama for a two week vacation, something she’s done ever since she left home and moved to New York City. She’s twenty-six now and still a free spirit.

A few days after she returns, she follows her father, Atticus, and her longtime boyhood friend, Hank, to a meeting. What she hears enrages her. The meeting is full of racist hatred and bigotry, and she watches as her father and boyfriend listen and agree with the diatribe. She cannot bear it–she was born colorblind. How can she continue to live with these people when she is so opposed to them? What should she do? Uncle Jack makes sense of it all and helps her understand what it means.

I was slow to warm up to this book because nothing much happens until chapter 8. I did enjoy the vignettes of Jean Louis’ childhood as she grew up in the town of Maycomb. They set the stage for what she does as an adult. Of note, none of these stories had anything to do with race relations because the theme of this book has more to do with maturity, gaining independence, and becoming self-aware, not racism, although it is in the book. It was easy to read although I didn’t understand some of the Southern colloquialisms.

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