Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Belated Coming-of-Age Story

"Go Set A Watchman" by Harper Lee   Harper   278 pages   $27.99

When the book came out, many of the reviews were negative due largely to the subject matter which was (loosely) racism in the South.  Ever'body was agin' it, to save you some time.

Jean Louise (Scout) Finch has returned to her home town for a visit; she now lives in New York.  She is at the time of this book 26.

She grew up with an older brother, her father Atticus and the black housekeeper Calpurnia.  During this visit, she attends a local citizens council whose guest speaker is a rabid anti-Negro racist.  Appalled, she watches her father listen to this nutcase.  Her father's law practice often helped blacks with deeds, wills, minor disputes and here he is actually listening to this trash?

Appalled, she slinks away, vowing to go back to NY in a New York minute and to never return.The entire town and all in it would no longer exist for her nor would she for them. 

The ensuing conversation between Scout and Atticus is not the climax of the book; her conversation with Atticus' brother Jack is.

Despite a rather 'round robin of disapproval by critics at the book, I liked it. This, Lee's first book, provides engaging pre-shadowing of the characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird" - brother Jem (bossy) and neighbor Dill (fey) and Calpurnia as the mother figure, but not.  It's a quick read and I recommend it even if the characters do go on a bit about slavery, etc.   

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