A Southern Opinion on ‘Go Set a Watchman’ (No Spoilers)

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Guys, I wasn’t sure that I was going to read this book and then I ended up finishing it in one night. I’m sure most of you already know that I love Harper Lee, her book To Kill a Mockingbirdand most things Southern but after hearing somewhat negative reviews on the book I wasn’t sure if I could let my view of Harper Lee’s near-sainthood be tainted. And Atticus Finch. Oh, Atticus. How I envisioned you (looking like Gregory Peck, of course) standing for all truth and righteousness despite the cost. Maybe even in spite of the cost. And knowing that he would be racist in this book made it hard to pick up.

But I did read it and even liked it. Is it as good as To Kill a Mockingbird? Nowhere close, in my opinion. But is it worth reading? Absolutely. First, despite it’s unedited state, Harper Lee is a woman who can tell a story. She gets a little long-winded sometimes in this book, but it usually adds depth to the story and she ends up rerouting us to her point eventually. Second, and probably most importantly, this book gives you a look into the complexity of the South, her history and why her future will be painful. I love the South and I’m dyed in the wool of Dixie (or should I say dyed in the cotton) but explaining why I love this conflicted place is only slightly harder than trying to explain why she is the way she is. This book ambitiously takes on that task and humanizes the people living there while doing it.

Go Set a Watchman is as relevant today as it was when it was written. I know that it’s a strong statement, but with all of the recent racial turmoil we’ve had, it’s fitting that this was published now. Harper Lee swore up and down she’d never publish again and many are still questioning “why now?” I can’t speak for Ms. Lee but I’d like to hope that she saw what was going on around her and decided we needed it. And we do. We need to understand the past so we can more clearly see the present and better shape the future. Ms. Lee was our watchman in 1964 and her voice still clearly rings out to us today.

If you want to read more about the controversy surrounding the publication, check it out HERE.