In eighth grade, I read “To Kill A Mockingbird” as part of my language arts class and I was instantly taken. The characters worked so well, the story was strong and themes of morality and human nature were prevalent throughout. Just earlier this month, it was announced that Harper Lee, author of the world-famous “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was publishing a second book, a sequel entitled “Go Set A Watchman.”
Like so many others, “To Kill A Mockingbird” holds a special place on my list of favorite books. Atticus Finch, the father character who takes the role of a manly, moral and even righteous backbone to the story, stands as a role model for fighting a good fight. I even wrote my application essay for this school on this book!
So upon hearing “Watchman” is coming out this summer, I was instantly nervous. How do you top a work that was the seventh bestselling book in 2014, 50 years after its first publication? Not only that, but there have been statements from the publisher that the manuscript is getting published with no input from an editing standpoint. If the book comes out and it turns out to be garbage, what happens then? Part of the draw to Harper Lee as an author is her status as the recluse, as the author who published only the one influential book and then hid for 50 years. This second novel could reduce her to a one-hit wonder if it’s not as good.
According to different news sources, the story of “Watchman” will follow an older Scout and her interactions with her father, going through flashbacks on the events of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Another question I ask, is there another story to tell? Or is “Watchman” just going to be an extended reflection on “Mockingbird”? Another thing to consider is Harper Lee herself. Lee is 88 years old and has been avoiding the public eye since she first published. The author also reportedly has been nearly blind and deaf since a stroke several years ago and was heavily reliant on her sister who died only recently. Is this publication the result of any outside pressure from publishers or people who would benefit from this?
My nervousness will not prevent me from reading the book; that’s for sure. I’m excited to read it, to hear more of the story. Who knows, “Watchman” could blow “Mockingbird” out of the water.
“Go Set A Watchman” is set to be released July 24, 2015 by HarperCollins.
Joshua Morse is a sophomore literature major with a focus in English education. Morse is a fan of Korean pop music at high volumes, taking long and contemplative naps, working at Public Safety and skyping with his girlfriend Sofia. He also drives a minivan. Follow Josh on Instagram @soundofthegeeks