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Go Set a Watchman
Cover of Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman
To Kill a Mockingbird Series, Book 2

#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.

#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.

Available formats-
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    3
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    870
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

Recommended for you

 
Awards-
About the Author-
  • Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She is the author of the acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, which became a phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller when it was published in July 2015. Ms. Lee received the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and numerous other literary awards and honors. She died on February 19, 2016.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 20, 2015
    Reviewed by Louisa Ermelino The editor who rejected Lee's first effort had the right idea. The novel the world has been waiting for is clearly the work of a novice, with poor characterization (how did the beloved Scout grow up to be such a preachy bore, even as she serves as the book's moral compass?), lengthy exposition, and ultimately not much story, unless you consider Scout thinking she's pregnant because she was French-kissed or her losing her falsies at the school dance compelling. The book opens in the 1950s with Jean Louise, a grown-up 26-year-old Scout, returning to Maycomb from New York, where she's been living as an independent woman. Jean Louise is there to see Atticus, now in his seventies and debilitated by arthritis. She arrives in a town bristling from the NAACP's actions to desegregate the schools. Her aunt Zandra, the classic Southern gentlewoman, berates Jean Louise for wearing slacks and for considering her longtime friend and Atticus protégé Henry Clinton as a potential husband—Zandra dubs him trash. But the crux of the book is that Atticus and Henry are racist, as is everyone else in Jean Louise's old life (even her childhood caretaker, Calpurnia, sees the white folks as the enemy). The presentation of the South pushing back against the dictates of the Federal government, utilizing characters from a book that was about justice prevailing in the South through the efforts of an unambiguous hero, is a worthy endeavor. Lee just doesn't do the job with any aplomb. The theme of the book is basically about not being able to go home again, as Jean Louise sums it up in her confrontation with Atticus: "there's no place for me anymore in Maycomb, and I'll never be entirely at home anywhere else." As a picture of the desegregating South, the novel is interesting but heavy-handed, with harsh language and rough sentiments: "Do you want them in our world?" Atticus asks his daughter. The temptation to publish another Lee novel was undoubtedly great, but it's a little like finding out there's no Santa Claus.

  • Library Journal

    August 1, 2015

    As every reader knows, Lee's second novel, from which her iconic To Kill a Mockingbird was spun 55 years ago, has just been published by Harper with considerable excitement and some still-shifting uncertainty, as reported by the New York Times, about how the manuscript was rediscovered. Lee's original work has feisty 26-year-old Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout as a child and the basis for Mockingbird's beloved heroine, returning home from New York to Maycomb Junction, AL, post-Brown v. Board of Education and encountering strongly resistant states'-rights, anti-integrationist forces that include boyfriend Henry and, significantly, her father, Atticus Finch, Mockingbird's moral center. Readers shocked by that revelation must remember that there are now two Atticus Finches; the work in hand is not a sequel but served as source material for Lee's eventual Pulitzer Prize winner, with such reworked characters a natural part of the writing and editing processes. Even if one can imagine that the seeds of the older Atticus are there in the younger Atticus--and that's possible--these are different characters and different books. More significantly, the current work stands as you-are-there documentation of a specific time and place, contextualizing both Mockingbird and the very beginnings of the civil rights movement, and for that reason alone it's invaluable and recommended reading. Mockingbird's Atticus was right for 1960, just after the Little Rock integration crisis, with his defense of a wrongly accused African American making him a moral beacon and a lesson for all. Yet for many readers, even those who love and admire Mockingbird, it also smacked of white self-congratulation, and the current book is a rawer, more authentic representation of Southern sentiment at a tumultuous time, years removed from the solidly (and safely) segregationist era of Mockingbird. If Watchman is occasionally digressive or a bit much of a lecture, it's good enough to make one wish that Lee had written a dozen works. It's also a breathtaking read that will have the reader actively engaged and arguing with every character, including Jean Louise. In the end, despite Jean Louise's powerful articulation that the court had to rule as it did, that "we [whites] deserve everything we've gotten from the NAACP," and that Negroes (as the novel says) will rise and should rise, it's unsettling and, yes, disappointing that the confrontation between Jean Louise and Atticus is ultimately an engineered effort to make her stand up for herself and stop worshipping her father. That's not quite believable, and what's right gets a little lost in states' rights, which Jean Louise herself supports. At least she doesn't run back to New York, but did she really win her argument? The ugly things she hears around her are still being said today. VERDICT Disturbing, important, and not to be compared with Mockingbird; this book is its own signal work.--Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • New York Times Opinion Pages: Taking Note "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...
  • Washington Post "Watchman is compelling in its timeliness."
  • USA Today "Go Set a Watchman provides valuable insight into the generous, complex mind of one of America's most important authors."
  • Time "Harper Lee's second novel sheds more light on our world than its predecessor did."
  • Wall Street Journal "[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."
  • Chicago Tribune "...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."
  • Los Angeles Times "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."
  • Washington Post "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."
  • Time "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."
  • San Francisco Chronicle "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."
  • Chicago Tribune "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."
  • Columbus Dispatch "[Go Set a Watchman] captures some of the same small-town Southern humor and preoccupation with America's great struggle: race."
  • Vanity Fair "Go Set a Watchman's gorgeous opening is better than we could have expected."
  • The Guardian "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 Independent "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."
  • New York Post "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."
  • People "A deftly written tale... there's something undeniably comforting and familiar about sinking into Lee's prose once again."
  • Vulture "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."
  • Daily Beast "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."
  • Bloomberg View "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."
  • Denver Post "[Go Set a Watchman is a] brilliant book that ruthlessly examines race relations
  • NPR's "Code Switch" "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."
  • Buffalo News "[Go Set a Watchman is]
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To Kill a Mockingbird Series, Book 2
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