I knew better than to think of this book as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird
before I started reading it, but in practice it's difficult to separate the two. Both are about events and circumstances that have a profound impact on the way Jean Louise Finch sees the world around her. Both are about the same little girl discovering she's growing up, though nearly two decades apart.
But although the Jean Louise of Watchman
is much older than her Mockingbird
counterpart, the younger Scout seems much more grown up, somehow. Maybe that's the point. Maybe as adults we come to a point where we have decided we know everything we'll ever need to know, and that rigidity of thinking is what makes us so much less wise than children. That's certainly part of the lesson Atticus tries to bestow on his beloved daughter - that lasting, meaningful change is led by understanding rather than immovability.
Try as I might to treat it as a separate entity, throughout Watchman
I longed for the same depth of introspection that makes Mockingbird
a perennial favorite of mine. While adult Jean Louise's angst was understandable, the child Scout's was captivating.
On its own, Go Set a Watchman
is a thoughtful and compelling story supported by a cast of deeply real characters. The book is moving, as timely now as when it was written, and a must-read. But unfortunately it will forever be compared to its sister, and held up against her light Watchman
will always reveal its flaws.