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Go Set a Watchman: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 14, 2015
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#1 New York Times Bestseller
“Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades…
— New York Times (Opinion Pages)
A landmark novel by Harper Lee, set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.
Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.
Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
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“Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades… — New York Times Opinion Pages: Taking Note
“Watchman is compelling in its timeliness.” — Washington Post
“Go Set a Watchman provides valuable insight into the generous, complex mind of one of America’s most important authors.” — USA Today
“Don’t let ‘Go Set a Watchman’ change the way you think about Atticus Finch…the hard truth is that a man such as Atticus, born barely a decade after Reconstruction to a family of Southern gentry, would have had a complicated and tortuous history with race. That this doesn’t emerge in To Kill a Mockingbird, then, may be one of that book’s failings, a tendency to sugarcoat, to oversimplify. The Atticus in Go Set a Watchman, in other words, is likely closer to the way such a man would actually have been.” — Los Angeles Times
“Harper Lee’s second novel sheds more light on our world than its predecessor did.” — Time
“[Go Set a Watchman] contains the familiar pleasures of Ms. Lee’s writing- the easy, drawling rhythms, the flashes of insouciant humor, the love of anecdote.” — Wall Street Journal
“…the voice we came to know so well in To Kill a Mockingbird - funny, ornery, rulebreaking - is right here in Go Set a Watchman, too, as exasperating and captivating as ever.” — Chicago Tribune
“A significant aspect of this novel is that it asks us to see Atticus now not merely as a hero, a god, but as a flesh-and-blood man with shortcomings and moral failing, enabling us to see ourselves for all our complexities and contradictions.” — Washington Post
“The success of Go Set a Watchman... lies both in its depiction of Jean Louise reckoning with her father’s beliefs, and in the manner by which it integrates those beliefs into the Atticus we know.” — Time
“Go Set a Watchman’s greatest asset may be its role in sparking frank discussion about America’s woeful track record when it comes to racial equality.” — San Francisco Chronicle
“Go Set a Watchman comes to us at exactly the right moment. All important works of art do. They come when we don’t know how much we need them.” — Chicago Tribune
“What makes Go Set a Watchman memorable is its sophisticated and even prescient view of the long march for racial justice. Remarkably, a novel written that long ago has a lot to say about our current struggles with race and inequality.” — Chicago Tribune
“[Go Set a Watchman] captures some of the same small-town Southern humor and preoccupation with America’s great struggle: race.” — Columbus Dispatch
“Go Set a Watchman’s gorgeous opening is better than we could have expected.” — Vanity Fair
“Go Set a Watchman is more complex than Harper Lee’s original classic. A satisfying novel… it is, in most respects, a new work, and a pleasure, revelation and genuine literary event.” — The Guardian
“Lee’s ability with description is evident… with long sentences beautifully rendered and evoking a world long lost to history, but welcoming all the same.” — CNN.com
“A coming-of-age novel in which Scout becomes her own woman…Go Set a Watchman’s voice is beguiling and distinctive, and reminiscent of Mockingbird. (It) can’t be dismissed as literary scraps from Lee’s imagination. It has too much integrity for that.” — The Independent
“Atticus’ complexity makes Go Set a Watchman worth reading. With Mockingbird, Harper Lee made us question what we know and who we think we are. Go Set a Watchman continues in this noble literary tradition.” — New York Post
“A deftly written tale… there’s something undeniably comforting and familiar about sinking into Lee’s prose once again.” — People
“One overarching theme that many critics have zeroed in on is that there is a lot to learn from the novel, as both a writer and a reader.” — Vulture
“As Faulkner said, the only good stories are the ones about the human heart in conflict with itself. And that’s a pretty good summation of Go Set a Watchman.” — Daily Beast
“Go Set a Watchman offers a rich and complex story… To make the novel about pinning the right label on Atticus is to miss the point.” — Bloomberg View
“[Go Set a Watchman is a] brilliant book that ruthlessly examines race relations — Denver Post
“In this powerful newly published story about the Finch family, Lee presents a wider window into the white Southern heart, and tells us it is finally time for us all to shatter the false gods of the past and be free.” — NPR's "Code Switch"
“[Go Set a Watchman is] filled with the evocative language, realistic dialogue and sense of place that partially explains what made Mockingbird so beloved.” — Buffalo News
From the Back Cover
“Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades.”—Clay Risen, New York Times
Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.
Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
“Harper Lee’s second novel sheds more light on our world than its predecessor did.”—Time“Provides valuable insight into the generous, complex mind of one of America’s most important authors.”—USA Today
- ASIN : 0062409859
- Publisher : Harper; 1st edition (July 14, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 288 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780062409850
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062409850
- Lexile measure : 870L
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.04 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #128,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Reviewed in the United States on July 20, 2015
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by Don Sugg
“People generally see what they look for and hear what they listen for.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Although not nearly as artfully crafted as her classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s 1957 first novel, Go Set a Watchman, contains flashes of why she is considered by many to be one of the premier twentieth century American novelists. This newly published novel had been rejected for publication until Lee re-wrote it from the perspective of Jean Louise, not as an adult, but as a child ranging in age between six and eight. To Kill a Mockingbird, subsequently went on to become one of the most widely read and deeply beloved American novels and films of all time, read and viewed by millions of students and adults alike. In Watchman’s first chapter, Lee immerses the reader in the same small, imaginary, and seemingly bucolic town of Maycomb, Alabama, in a manner that even the most ardent of Yankees will embrace. However, as one might suspect, there is something rotten in the town of Maycomb.
Although Watchman focuses on the same characters we learned to love in Mockingbird, albeit twenty years later, the public reaction to it has been dramatically different. Despite there having been more pre-publication anticipation of Watchman than any novel since the Harry Potter series, there has been widespread indignation and gnashing of teeth by Mockingbird fans who, upon reading Watchman, discover that their sainted hero, Atticus Finch, turns out to be a far more complex, three-dimensional human being - one with warts, secrets, prejudices, and all. One couple, who had named their son Atticus, actually went so far as to have his name legally changed after they read Watchman.
The great Canadian author, Robertson Davies, once wrote “You never read the same book twice”. This is certainly true of To Kill a Mockingbird. Taking the opportunity afforded by the publication of Watchman to revisit Mockingbird from an adult perspective and engaging in a careful, more critical reading, the reader may well come away with a very different view of Atticus Finch. Looking beyond the naïve perspective of his adoring daughter, Scout, and closely examining the more subtle facts of the story, we can see what a flawed man Atticus actually is - both as an attorney and as a father. Of his three criminal cases mentioned in the book, his first two ended with his clients being hanged. In the third, his client, Tom Robinson, is wrongly convicted of raping a white woman and subsequently commits suicide-by-cop. Even though Atticus knew full well that Tom could never receive a fair trial in racist Maycomb, he negligently fails to file a pre-trial motion for change of venue. Upon being asked why, he simply mumbles an inaudible response. On cross-examination, he never asks Mayella about sending her siblings away so that she could seduce Tom, nor does he call any of them as witnesses to corroberate Tom’s story. Despite complaining in his closing argument that the prosecution provided no medical evidence that a rape had been committed, Atticus himself fails to produce any medical testimony regarding Tom's disability. Instead he relies on a cheap and ultimately unconvincing courtroom stunt that could easily have been faked. Although it makes for a compelling visual image in both the book and the film, it simply doesn’t pass for good trial practice. Thus despite Atticus’s claims to the contrary, the only apparent issue available to poor Tom on appeal would seem to have been ineffective assistance of counsel.
Atticus also proves himself to be an even worse father than attorney. Although the rest of the town attends the school pageant, Atticus selfishly and neglectfully refuses to escort Scout, electing instead to stay home and pay Jem to take her in his stead. He does this knowing that Bob Ewell who had threatened revenge on Atticus for his defense of Tom Robinson was openly accusing Atticus of getting him fired from his WPA job. Ewell had also recently attempted to break into Judge Taylor’s house and repeatedly harassed Tom Robinson’s widow, Helen. Had Atticus taken Scout to the pageant himself, Bob Ewell’s attack on Jem and Scout likely would never have occurred. Even after the attack, Atticus shows no remorse for his poor decision. Incredulously, Atticus, an experienced criminal defense attorney, actually encourages Sheriff Tate to bring a homicide charge against Jem for killing Bob Ewell. He does this despite the fact that Jem’s diminutive size and broken arm would have logically precluded him from having committed the stabbing. Why didn’t Atticus wait until Jem had regained consciousness and gotten his version of the events? When Boo Radley carried the injured and unconscious Jem home, why didn’t he even ask Boo Radley what had happened? How was Jem rendered unconscious after he had supposedly mortally wounded Ewell? Why was Atticus so willing, even anxious, to bring Jem to trial for the death of the very man whose testimony convinced the jury to find the innocent Tom Robinson guilty of rape? The obvious answer to these questions is that the seemingly wise and virtuous Atticus had such faith in the judicial system (despite the fact that it had convicted the innocent Tom Robinson), that he was convinced that a jury would see that Jem acted in self-defense and acquit him of any wrongdoing. But if we are to accept this as true, where was Atticus's faith in and devotion to the law only moments later when he was more than willing to be complicit in withholding material evidence that it was Boo Radley and not Jem who had in fact killed Bob Ewell? It begs credulity to think that Aticus might share Sheriff Tate’s concern with protecting Boo Radley from the ladies of Maycomb bringing him cake to the extent that he would be willing to jeopardize his own son’s life and liberty. Was he more apprehensive of the impact that the appearance of a cover-up of a crime allegedly committed by Jem would have on his own reputation and political career than he was for Jem’s wellbeing? The often overlooked beauty of Mockingbird is the fact that for the careful and thoughtful reader, these remain open questions.
In Go Set a Watchman, Atticus is again shown to be a flawed hero. However, this time the moral imperfections of his daughter, Jean Louise (Scout in Mockingbird), are likewise brought to light. In the end, both characters' bigotry is exposed. But even more importantly, so is the bigotry of readers who fail to recognize that Lee is again challenging them to walk in another's shoes. But whereas it was relatively easy for the empathetic reader to walk in the shoes of Tom Robinson or Boo Radley, here Lee demands that readers take a more uncomfortable walk in the shoes of mid-twentieth century southerners, people who see their culture, values, and customs being decimated by the likes of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education and an army of invading northern NAACP attorneys. Atticus recognizes full well both the need for and the inevitability of change. He simply objects to how the changes being rammed down their throats by what he sees as arrogant and equally bigoted northerners.
Lee’s call for tolerance and acceptance in Watchman brings to mind President Abraham Lincoln’s then nearly century old admonition to a war-torn country at the end of his Second Inaugural Address:
With malice toward none, and charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (emphasis added)
Of Mockingbird, Flannery O’Connor observed that “for a child's book it does all right. It's interesting that all the folks that are buying it don't know they're reading a child's book. Somebody ought to say what it is." But critic Stephen Metcalff was not only a little kinder, he was a little closer to the mark when he stated that “To Kill a Mockingbird is a type of literature Americans are most comfortable abiding, because it makes them most abidingly comfortable with themselves.” Go Set a Watchman provides no such comfort for its readers, which likely played a role in the book originally being rejected for publication. Rather, Watchman provides a rude awakening for those Mockingbird fans who share the younger Jean Louise’s blind adoration of Atticus. Here, when Jean Louise proves unable to walk in the shoes of Calpurnia, the black servant who had raised her as a child, she is then shocked and emotionally crushed by Calpurnia’s rejection of her offer to have Atticus defend her grandson and Calpurnia’s ability to only see “white folks” when she looks at Jean Louise. In a similar manner, Lee holds up a mirror to those readers who rather comfortably felt able to walk in the shoes of a Tom Robinson or Boo Radley by laying bare their inability to take a little stroll in the shoes of an aging, flawed, and yes, bigoted mid-twentieth century southern gentleman. I suspect that despite its relative lack of literary artistry, Ms. O’Connor would be far more pleased with Watchman than she was with Mockingbird.
Just as the adult Jean Louise learns to look beyond her idealized childhood image of Atticus, Lee demands the same of her reader. Accordingly, it would be a mistake to simply dismiss Watchman as yet another bitter coming of age story with the adult child suddenly recognizing the previously idealized parent’s imperfections. Jean Louise comes to terms with her own frailties, imperfections and character deficiencies by way of learning to appreciate this more fully human Atticus Finch. By virtue of Atticus’s unconditional acceptance and even celebration of the development of his daughter’s independent mind - in spite of the bitterly scathing and venomous personal attack she levies at him - the Atticus of Watchman proves to be a far wiser, loving, and indeed more heroic father than Scout’s naïve childhood image of him that was shared by most Mockingbird readers.
Clearly, Watchman is not a book about redemption. However, when it is read together with Mockingbird, the two books combine to provide a powerful insight into not just the necessity for but also the difficulty of attaining tolerance, acceptance, and ultimately reconciliation - on both individual and cultural levels.
Unfortunately, after having their saintly image of Atticus Finch shattered, I fear that far too many teachers who have for years or even decades devotedly taught their students to emulate his seemingly uncompromising virtues will refuse to accept the fundamental truth of a flawed Atticus as revealed by a careful reading of Mockingbird in conjunction with a reading of Watchman. They will reject the opportunity to use Watchman to teach their students just how profoundly difficult wrestling with ideas and beliefs that conflict with their own can be. In doing so, they will deny their students a unique opportunity to develop their own more informed, open-minded, and tolerant worldview, one which is required to deal with a world populated by people who are far more complex than the cookie-cutter characters presented by Scout’s innocent and youthful perspective in Mockingbird. For such teachers, walking in the shoes of another applies only to those whose shoes already fit their own feet.
***** Be warned ***** my view of Go Set A Watchman contains SPOILERS, but I couldn’t see how to express my thoughts without touching on a few points (many already discussed in the countless reviews before the book hit the shelves).
I finished Go Set a Watchman this morning and have so many thoughts about the novel. For one, I think the media flap over Atticus being less than a paragon was hardly more than the publisher sending out PR stories to up their sales. At some point they took a look and saw presales were not hitting the big money mark that they had greedily anticipated, so they set out to create a mountain out of a molehill; with the help of a few reviews of outrage, they fueled the sensationalism-hungry media and social networks, the pursuing flap drove everyone out to buy it to see for themselves. Well, perhaps there is a lesson there – never truly judge a book by its cover – or rather, we need to pay smaller heed to the fray and just read it for yourself. You might be surprised. I was.
I went in to buying the book feeling concern for Harper Lee. Had she been taken advantage of? Did she even pen the book? Some of the circumstances of the “finding” of the novel have been called into question by various sources. This came on the heels of Lee having to sue to get her rights for To Kill A Mockingbird back from the nephew of her former agent, that she had been duped into signing them away, even an investigation into concerns of abuse of the beloved author, who had trouble seeing and hearing and no champion to protect her. It was a murky whirlpool of speculation that saw the book making it into print. I know one thing without a doubt –– Go Set A Watchman was penned by Harper Lee. The book is hers. Unpolished in places and dealing with a period of growth for the nation, it wasn’t a pretty picture she painted, but it was an honest one from her stand point and typical for the era. But beneath the shaky start to the book, you hear Lee’s beautiful prose ringing clear, especially when you go through the flashbacks of Jem, Dill and Atticus.
There is a tendency to see this book as a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. It begins with a grown up Jean-Louise Finch returning home for her annual visit to Maycomb, Mississippi. Atticus is now aging, nearly eighty-years-old, and fighting to retain his pride though crippled with rheumatoid arthritis. He needs Jean-Louise home, but is too proud to ask her. Instead, his sister (which we met in To Kill A Mockingbird) is there to help him through his everyday life. Jem is gone, lost to a sudden heart attack – the same thing that had claimed their mother when Jean-Louise was too young to recall. You have a sense throughout the whole story that Scout hasn’t truly grieved over the loss of her hero brother, hasn’t been able to let him go. It gives you a sense that he is still alive for her, as long as she keeps him locked in the cocoon of childhood memories. Dill is spoken of, but never plays a role in the book outside of flashbacks. You sense a detachment from her beloved childhood friend, which mirrors Harper Lee’s own estrangement from Truman Capote (the model for Charles Baker Harris). And beloved Calpurnia, who served as mother to Jean-Louise, is now retired. Their reunion is bittersweet and tears at the heart. Other characters from To Kill A Mockingbird are scattered about, lending an instant familiarity, but their roles are changed in various ways. Walter Cunningham, who got her in trouble with that “dumb lady teacher”, is no longer that poor little boy who pours molasses all over his plate, the son of the man who works off his entailment by bringing nuts to the Finch house early in the morn –– the only form of payment he can afford. Instead, Walter owns the Maycomb ice cream parlor, built on the land where Scout’s old home once stood.
In the first few chapters you hear a young writer struggling to find her voice. The first three have a flat, detached feel to them, almost another voice, almost like Lee was trying to sound like an author rather than be one. The harder she tried the farther she got away from her own natural magic. Other times, she’s dead on target and straight from her heart. As the book progresses you are treated to remembrances of Jem, Dill and Atticus. Oddly enough, there is no mention of Boo Radley. There is a mention of a trial, an echo of Tom Robinson’s, but this young black man, accused of rape by a white woman, lost his arm to the sawmill instead of the cotton gin, and this time Atticus saw him acquitted. Seeds planted that would come full force and be the center of Atticus’ great journey in To Kill a Mockingbird. All these changes see Watchman a sequel, and yet not truly a sequel.
You quickly sense there are two voices struggling within the character – Jean-Louise in the present, but also Scout who never truly went away. She has moved to New York, tried to be worldlier. Instead, she just put a veneer over the shy, tomboy that never quite fit in. It’s that duality of the book, which took a few chapters for Harper Lee to master. Through the unfolding of the story, we learn Jean-Louise is really just Scout in an adult’s skin. It’s the battle between who she thinks she is, and who she truly is that causes most of her misery. She still sees the town and Atticus through Scout’s eyes. Following Scout’s recollections as she grew we learn, while horribly bright and encouraged to read about everything, she is quite backward about life in general –– terrified she is dying when her first period comes, which evolved later into nearly nine months of wretchedness after she mistakenly thinks she’s pregnant from French kissing Walter Cunningham. Currently, she loves Henry, the boy next door, but she’s not in love with him. In many ways the young man, best friend to Jem, has stepped into Jem’s shoes for Atticus. What to do? She hates the town she grew up in with a passion, yet loves it and wants to cling to the past with equal measure. She’s horrified Atticus could have ever attended a KKK meeting, but in Jean-Louise’s simplified view of life, there are no grays. It never occurs to her Atticus was a man who moved through Maycomb, handled legal matters, dealt with judges, lawyers, politicians and businessmen, and it was vital for him to know which ones hid behind a mask. Scotland has a saying, you hold your friends close, and your enemies closer. Atticus was merely following that sage adage. However, Jean-Louise cannot see beyond the surface, only that Atticus had done something that went against everything she believed he was.
As we grow our perceptions of the world changes. We learn, accept, reject and are changed by the various trials and tribulations. Jean-Louise didn’t change. She was still Scout inside, still clinging to her childish views of life, her hometown and the people she loved. Much like Lee herself.
Go Set a Watchman is a worthy companion to the later To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s different in many ways. It’s a first book of an author, and showcases the shining talent of that writer finding her way, of becoming a wordsmith that would go on to turn out a masterpiece. I think it’s an example, showing any author how to take their novel and go back and do second, third or fourth drafts to take a good story and make it something special. Some of the writing, where Jean-Louise is examining the views on race relations of the period, Lee wanders between a Joan of Arc mentality to mounting a very preachy soapbox. Much can and will likely be made of her simplistic views of the period, of good and evil, of the town’s resistance to the coming end to segregation. For those too young to recall the ugly face of history, you will probably judge the book harsher than those of you who lived through the upheavals and changes and understand the complexities first hand.
Frankly, I was scared to read the book after all the hoopla in the media. I so loved To Kill a Mockingbird that I feared this book would destroy that love somehow. She says Maycomb had once been told it had nothing to fear but fear itself. I supposed I should have recalled that line. In the end, I laughed, I cried, and I was sad when the book ended. And extremely sad such a wonderful, wonderful writer never penned more books for the world to enjoy. I loved this book almost as much as I do To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee has said she is Boo. The summer we started so long ago has ended and Boo has finally come out. When considering this book one needs to recall what Lee wrote about Atticus saying never judge someone until you’ve climbed into his shoes and walked around in them. That is good advice about reading Go Set a Watchman.
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In Watchman we meet Jean Louise, who as a child (in Mockingbird) was known as Scout, a tomboy whose friends, if I recall, were all boys. Jean Louise goes back to her small home town to visit her father, Atticus, now an elderly man suffering from crippling arthritis. It was hoped she would come home permanently to look after him, but she has a life in new York and is content to leave the looking after to Atticus's sister, Alexandra.
It is during her visit she learns something that puts her whole childhood in doubt. Could Atticus really be the same man she looked up to and adored?? What about her childhood sweetheart, Henry, who is desperate to marry her – does he harbour the same views?
Parts of this book evocative and interesting, but huge chunks of it felt like padding, until Something Happened, and even when that Something did happen it wasn't as mind-blowing as I'd expected. It often felt didactic, particularly when Jean Louise is in Uncle Jack's company, but then, that is the nature of his character. However it's often heavy-going and comes across as boring and preachy.
I would never recommend anyone to read this before reading Mockingbird – read that, enjoy it, and stop there.
The book "starts" half way through; its main themes are hidden until then. I found myself ploughing through reams of filler/scene-setting hoping that something would happen. Perhaps I am a spoilt modern reader, but this was published in 2015.
Eventually things pick up, and almost make up for the dull opening 50% (Kindle). As a middle/young adult reader I found it compelling and evocative, with many hot contemporary themes packed in there – not surprising in an old setting in that part of the world. Despite that, this was a chore to read and I would have preferred an abridged version. The first half of the book, and many characters and anecdotes could be omitted. It's hard as a reader to know what's safe to skip.
One positive I've taken from it being so frustrating is that's made it thought provoking, trying to get mileage out of good things. I've been thinking about it for longer than usual after putting it down. There are a number of hot themes packed into the interesting pages. Not only race. I just wish it'd been shorter. It would have been perfect for the Penguin Modern Classics series. If they edited it.
Nothing much happens in the story but it is none the less a fascinating read with believable characters, especially wonderful outspoken Uncle Jack. I would recommend this book to anyone who has tired of chick lit and wants to read something really absorbing.