“Go Set a Watchman” review

Cayla Bush / / Staff Writer


More than half a century after “To Kill a Mockingbird” was released, “Go Set a Watchman,” Harper Lee’s previously unreleased novel saw the public light.

While “Mockingbird” was written after “Watchman,” it was the first released, and introduced the fictional town of Maycomb, Ala. along with Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the novel’s protagonist, Atticus, her father, and the rest of her family who were dealing with racial tensions that affected the South.

“Watchman” follows Scout as a woman in her twenties, on her annual visit home from New York. As before, racial tensions plague Scout’s family and home life, and she must grapple with her own views and emotions, as well as the expected views of her community.

I waited months for the book, and was overjoyed when I finally bought it at the campus bookstore. “Mockingbird” is one of my all-time favorite books and I knew that Lee’s writing style would keep me captivated and make its position on my bookshelf permanent.

At first, the book was slow, and difficult to get into. The exposition of the novel took more than 60 pages, and it took a bit to get to the rising action and climax. Although this was a bit of a drag, I did appreciate Lee’s description of Scout and the set-up of her as a freethinker and someone who goes against the grain.

Once the conflict is introduced, which includes Scout’s love-interest, Atticus and the racial tensions that were present during the 1950s, the rest of the novel moves pretty quickly, and it can be difficult to pick up on the subtle messages that Lee is attempting to convey until they’re spelled out for the reader.

My favorite aspect of Lee’s writing style is her ability to cause readers to question their morals without blatantly choosing the answer for them. It’s especially useful in “Watchman,” as readers have to grapple with Atticus’ views and actions.

Taking idols and making them human, standing up to societal expectations and underlying feminist tones have given the novel a space on my bookshelf; unfortunately, I don’t see that space being permanent. It’s a rather slow read, and doesn’t hold the “classic” feel that it’s predecessor does.


My rating: 3/5

Good reads: 3.⅘
Bookmarked is a biweekly book review column, to suggest books email Cayla at cayla.bush@fiusm.com

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