In anticipation of Go Set a Watchman, I’ve been reading a book called Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy. She collected interviews from myriad people, including Oprah, Lee Smith, Allan Gurganus, Rosanne Cash, and even Alice Finch Lee, Nelle Harper’s sister. She talks with them about how the book impacted their lives, and their thoughts on it. It is so fascinating to read how one book can touch so many people in a variety of ways, and what it means to other writers. There are musings about the endurance of the story, thoughts about Nelle, and examinations of each of the characters.
It’s no secret that Mockingbird is one of my favorite books. But reading this, I fell in love with it all over again. Which brings me to this: will the new book (I always feel silly referring to it as such, since it was written first, and isn’t technically “new”) live up to it? Which is, of course, perhaps one reason Lee never wanted to publish anything else. I am excited to read about Scout as a young woman, but am nervous that it will change the idea of her in my head I’ve had all this time. Will she end up to be like she is in my head, or will her evolution disappoint me?
What do we do with characters who age throughout books? If we’re lucky, we grow to love them at every step of the way. I think this happens more often than not. Lee’s skillful handling of Scout, allowing her to be adult yet child at the same time in Mockingbird, gives me hope that this will be the case with the new book. We will fall in love with Scout and the Finch family all over again.
Is anyone else nervous about Harper Lee’s upcoming book?
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