Tomorrow feels like a holiday to me. And I guess it will be because I took a vacation day off work to read Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set a Watchman. I am giddy with anticipation because I feel as though I have been waiting for this book for my entire life. My mother and I have tried to figure out what age I was when I first read To Kill A Mockingbird and we have come to the conclusion that I was probably 10 years old. My first memory of TKAM is actually watching the movie “gasp” late one Saturday night in a fort built with chairs and quilts in the den in front of the TV with my mom. I remember being terrified of Bob Ewell and rightly so. I know that I did not understand some of the film, but it stayed with me. I adored Scout and was a feisty tomboy just like her. And that started my lifelong crush on Gregory Peck. Even seeing him in other films was odd too because he was Atticus Finch from there on out for me.
After seeing the movie, I ached to read the book as well. And my mom encouraged me by giving me a copy. I cannot possibly count how many times I have read To Kill A Mockingbird over the years. I did start reading it every summer about ten years ago. And every time I realize new things about it. Harper Lee’s use of language and her descriptions are magnificent. She does not make fun of the South, but also does not hide our flaws and faults. I find myself repeating some of her dialog quite often.
So yes, I have heard some of the controversy surrounding Go Set A Watchman. I have done my very best to ignore it although that has been next to impossible. I have decided to read this novel as a standalone. I did not read TKAM this summer nor have I watched the film version, so I can pick my book up early in the morning and go into it with a fresh mind. I’m no book reviewer, but I will say that I have disagreed many times over the years with book reviews. I don’t read a book or watch a film with reviews in my mind. This has served me well.
Thank you to my sweet mother for exposing me to this novel and film. It has made me the person I am today. And see you early tomorrow morning Square Books!
Laura Beth Walker