Although the purpose of this blog is to encourage professional reading, I know that many teachers take time in the summer to read fiction too. On this page, I’ll list the fiction I’m reading this summer (or that I’ve read recently and recommend) and write a brief review. You can use the comments on this page to recommend fiction you’ve read.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
I pre-ordered this book when it was first announced in February so it was delivered to my Kindle app the day it was released. By that time, there had been plenty of reviews with spoilers, so I knew what to expect. I, like everyone else, loved To Kill a Mockingbird and thought Atticus Finch was the perfect lawyer and the perfect father (and in my mind he will always look like Gregory Peck). I considered just ignoring it so it wouldn’t tarnish my view of the original book and its characters, but my curiosity got the best of me. I’m glad I read it. It is obviously a draft badly in need of editing; the best writing comes when Jean Louise (a.k.a. Scout) is reminiscing about childhood exploits with her brother and friends. Those anecdotes are poignant and full of humor, and reminded me of everthing I loved about To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s the changes in Atticus and Jean Louise’s reaction to these changes that are disturbing. Many have questioned whether this piece is really a draft that later became the book we know, or a failed attempt at a sequel. It probably doesn’t matter. If you look at the two books as having different points of view, it starts to make some sense. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story from a child’s point of view, where her father is perfect, and his motives always noble. Go Set a Watchman is the adult Scout’s realization that the world is far more complex than a child can perceive. I recommend this book not for its literary merit, but because it has fostered some deeper discussions about race, the south, and our history as a nation.