It’s been a long time since I read Mockingbird. I chose not to re-read it before I read this. I know that a lot of people compare this second, or first, Harper Lee work to To Kill a Mockingbird and find it lacking, but I chose to read it on its own merits. But, Mockingbird casts a long emotional shadow.
I guess I have the same problem as Jean Louise, because I can’t remember the last time a book made me so honest-to-God angry. Not frustrated. Not irritated. Not annoyed. Angry. Pissed off, sad, and … hurt, frankly. Reading Chapter 8, I felt every modicum of grief, shock, and anger she did. It felt as though Atticus had betrayed me.
In the novel Jack talks about a kind of death for Scout, but, from her side and that of women who were girls everywhere, it was the death of Atticus. Every girl who read To Kill a Mockingbird in school was left with a rather idealized, and idolized, vision of Atticus Finch. Go Set a Watchman murders that vision in cold blood, leaving it bloody and broken on the courtroom floor as we watch in paralyzed horror. The last few chapters saw me crying and fuming in silent rage. Even after reading the last sentence, I still feel that simmering blend of anger and grief.
Go Set a Watchman is a wonderful book. At times, I admit, it came off as preachy, but that didn’t at all muffle its emotional impact. A punch in the solar plexus of the heart.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars