“Kill your darlings” never felt this personal.
Though published decades after the perfect To Kill A Mockingbird, this novel was written first. I think it’s important to keep reminding yourself of that fact if you start to feel that Lee has *changed Atticus*. Watchman finds the adult Jean Louise, our beloved Scout, coming back to Maycomb County from the big city, and becoming disillusioned with the politics and bigotry of her hometown. She comes to question her relationship with her father, Atticus. In many ways, this is another coming-of-age novel, though a different age than Mockingbird. Many of us reach our twenties and find that maybe our parents aren’t the idols we had thought.
I felt very apprehensive about reading this, and that unease isn’t lifted now that I’ve finished. The questions regarding Lee’s health and representation make the publication feel squicky. And this isn’t a great novel. But there are moments where I absolutely reveled in Lee’s prose and voice. The scene between the adult Jean Louise and her former housekeeper Calpurnia in Calpurnia’s home was particularly amazing. Jean Louise’s discovery that her father may not be perfect and may not share her worldview was difficult to process, as I share her adoration of Atticus.
I thought about a 3- rating, but that lumps this book with so many “just ok” books that I won’t remember. Or that weren’t affecting. Reading this book was affecting. Disturbingly so, as my view of beloved characters was challenged and changed. So, it seems that once again Lee has made her point.
4 stars out of 5.