Saturday, July 18, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

Although written roughly 60 years ago, Harper Lee's novel, Go Set a Watchman, could not be more relevant to the world in which we live.

You can read the plot synopsis below in "From the Publisher." Suffice it to say that this is the story of a young woman coming to terms with the fact that her idol is a human being; that she is her own person; and that the world operates in terms of murky grey areas rather than clearly defined black/white rules.

As I scan my Facebook page I see a plethora of memes offering up the idea that the world is black and white. This is courage. This is not. This is right. This is wrong. This is good. This is bad. Taken at face value, it's a very polarizing world on social media. Sadly, this is the world in which many people are immersed. It's no wonder that people find themselves feeling isolated and afraid.

Go Set a Watchman presents the notion that sometimes things are not as clearly "black and white" as they appear. We live in a world that daily offers us not simply "either/or" choices, but "both/and" options. How we choose to navigate in such a world speaks volumes to our character and beliefs.

I have been sitting with Lee's words for a couple of days now. I plan to go back and re-read the book. It will join my list of books that must be re-read every couple of years or so. As I do, I hope that I will be inspired to work towards those causes which seem to me to be to the betterment of humanity while at the same time maintaining tolerance and an openness to dialogue and learning from others.

From the Publisher . . .

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—"Scout"—returns home 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 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.

About the Author . . .

Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She attended Huntingdon College and studied law at the University of Alabama. She is the author of two novels, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. Harper Lee has been awarded numerous literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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