Books: Go Set a Watchman

I was hesitant to read the new Harper Lee book due to the controversy around its publication, but after receiving it as a gift, my curiosity won out.  

*Potential SPOILERS ahead*

First off, I did reread "To Kill a Mockingbird" prior to reading "Go Set a Watchman." I originally read "To Kill a Mockingbird" in grade eight and couldn't remember specific details, just the feeling of loving it. I do still like it now, as an adult.

First off, I actually appreciated and liked the way Atticus is portrayed in "Go Set a Watchman." Rather than viewing it as a childhood saviour being torn down, I thought this book humanized him. In rereading "To Kill a Mockingbird," I found Atticus almost too perfect. He felt more like a character than a human. Perhaps it was Scout's childhood adoration that gives the impression, perhaps it's that he never seems to portray anything apart from calm and good.

Despite reading in several articles that he turns into a bitter old racist in the new book, I didn't find that to be true. He does, undeniably, hold racist views in the newer book. However, his personality is still much the same, and his responses to Jean Louise yelling at him made me tear up a bit. He comes across as an old man so set in his ways that he can't see past them.

That feeling Jean Louise experiences of realizing her father is human, and not the perfect god-like character of her childhood, is one I think most can relate to. Part of growing up is learning that your parents are far from perfect, and you don't agree with all of their opinions.

With that in mind, I would say both books are coming-of-age stories, just at different stages of that ambiguous term for growing up.


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